Nine out of 10 Aussies have had first jab – now experts say keep the pedal down

Medical experts have warned Australians not to let their guard down on COVID-19 despite rising vaccine rates and better than predicted case numbers.

Nov 11, 2021, updated Nov 11, 2021
A pop-up vaccination clinic to help lift jab rates when the pandemic was at its height. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

A pop-up vaccination clinic to help lift jab rates when the pandemic was at its height. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

As Australia on Thursday surpassed the 90 per cent first-dose vaccination rate for people 16 years and over, Medical Journal of Australia editor Nick Talley said hospital systems were coping well with eased virus restrictions.

“Most of the models predicted much worse case rates and hospitalisations were suspected to go higher and that hasn’t happened because the vaccination rates have been so high,” Professor Talley told Sky News on Thursday.

“We’ve hit a sweet spot at the moment, but we can’t let our guard down, but things are good at this stage.”

Talley said the health system was not completely out of the woods, warning a surge in COVID-19 cases could lead to a rise in hospitalisations.

“In NSW, things are going reasonably well, but Victoria is more stressful,” he said.

“Overall we’re doing well and coping well and we’re clearly in a good situation.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the national first dose rate passed the 90 per cent mark on Thursday afternoon, a milestone he said was an “extraordinary achievement”.

“All eight states and territories have now passed 80 per cent first doses. Four states and territories have passed 90 per cent first doses,” Mr Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

“What we’re seeing is a country on track to having over 90 per cent of the population double-dosed, one of the highest rates in the world.”

Meanwhile, there were 261 infections and one death in NSW, while 1313 cases and four fatalities were detected in Victoria.

The ACT, which is set to ease some of its last remaining COVID restrictions, registered nine cases on Thursday.

As vaccination rates across the country increases, attention is now turning to COVID jabs for children.

Australian medical regulators are assessing data from Pfizer to approve its vaccine for five- to 11-year-olds.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Wednesday also granted a provisional determination to Moderna’s vaccine for six- to 11-year-olds, inviting the manufacturer to submit data for approval.

Mr Hunt said while he expected children to be able to get vaccines shortly, caution was needed.

“We’re confident that this will be successful, but we’re committed to making sure that that focus on safety is absolute,” Mr Hunt said.

“(Regulators) will work to make sure that there are no corners cut in ensuring the safety and protection of our children.”

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