Vic opens all COVID vaccines to over 60s

Victorians aged over 60 will be able to get any COVID-19 vaccine, including Pfizer and Moderna, at all of the state’s vaccination hubs.

Health Minister Martin Foley said there was now enough vaccine supply in Victoria to open all brands to every age group eligible for inoculation.

“This change, which is now in effect, has been made possible by the relative certainty we now have for both Moderna and Pfizer, and the extraordinary number of young people who have come forward over the past three and a half weeks,” he told reporters on Monday.

Previously people over 60 were only able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at state hubs.

The federal government widened access to mRNA vaccines for those over 60 at the start of October, but Victoria initially held out to prioritise doses for younger people.

As of Sunday, 85.8 per cent of Victorians over 16 had received their first vaccine, including 92.9 per cent of people over 50.

“Victoria is well on the way to becoming one of the world’s most vaccinated jurisdictions,” Mr Foley said.

The ACT is leading Australian states and territories in first dose rates in those aged 16 and over, as more than 95 per cent have received their first jab, followed by NSW at 90.4 per cent.

Victoria is inching closer to reaching its 70 and 80 per cent double dose reopening targets, with 59.3 per cent of its 16-plus population now fully vaccinated.

Surging vaccination rates have brought forward estimated dates for hitting the 70 and 80 per cent goals to October 23 and November 2 respectively.

The state on Monday recorded another 1612 cases and eight deaths – two women and six men.

More than 30 per cent of the new infections were recorded in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

There are 19,000 active infections across the state, and the death toll from the current outbreak is 93.

The number of people in hospital continues to rise, with 677 patients including 133 in intensive care, 94 of whom are on a ventilator.

It comes after the state government announced up to 10,000 racing fans will be allowed to attend the Melbourne Cup on November 2.

Mr Foley responded to criticism that fans will be allowed to attend events before people can have family members over to their homes for dinner.

“We’ve seen throughout the course of their pandemic that it’s in private settings that we let our guard down,” he said.

Monday signals the first day regional areas will begin trialling a system to check the vaccination status of people wanting to visit a business.

The vaccine passport system will be used in Melbourne once lockdown lifts and businesses can reopen, with 14 regional venues participating in the trial, including gyms, pubs and churches.

Patrons will be asked to show they are fully vaccinated by displaying a digital certificate via the Services Victoria app, Medicare app or smartphone wallet.

As of 10am on Monday, more than 50,000 people had successfully connected their vaccination certificates to their Service Victoria app, with 4390 added within 10 minutes when demand hit a peak.

A printed version of the certificate or immunisation history statement can also be used as proof, or the patron will need to show evidence of a valid exemption.

For exposure sites visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites

Australian Associated Press

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