Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned the definition of being ‘fully vaccinated’ against Covid will soon change to involving three doses.
During a media conference in Melbourne on Wednesday, Mr Andrews noted that his government had mandated workers in several industries must get two Covid shots.
‘This is not an option, not an add-on, not a ‘good thing to have’, he told reporters.
‘I think we’re close to a change in policy that will simply reflect the fact that in order to be fully protected you need three doses, not two plus an optional extra.’
It comes as the premier announced the dose interval between the second and third vaccination would be reduced to three months.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned the definition of being ‘fully vaccinated’ against Covid will soon change to involving three doses
The premier said the number of people coming forward for a third jab needed to increase every single day as a ‘common sense’ response to the virus.
Mr Andrews said the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ would soon come to mean those who had received three doses and said he wouldn’t rule out mandating the third jab for workers other than healthcare staff.
He said his government was looking to ramp up booster rates by extending testing clinic opening hours and adding more cubicles and walk-in capacity.
He urged eligible residents with a ‘spare 20 minutes’ to book an appointment for a third dose to ensure they were protected amid surging Omicron cases.
‘We want it to be as easy as possible for the maximum number of people to get their third dose. That’s the most important thing,’ he told reporters.
His announcement on dose intervals means millions of Victorians who had their second dose three months ago are now eligible for their third.
The premier announced on Wednesday the dose interval between the second and third vaccination would be reduced to three months (pictured, queues for testing in Melbourne)
Following the announcement on dose intervals about two million Victorians were made eligible for their third vaccine dose (pictured, queues for testing at Melbourne Town Hall)
‘That interval has been reduced down to three months effective immediately,’ the premier said on Wednesday.
‘That’s on the advice of our public health team, consistent with ATAGI’s broader statement. It’s safe. It’s effective.’
The number of eligible residents has soared to about two million with clinics gearing up for a big weekend of vaccination to increase booster rates.
Major hubs at Sandown, Bendigo and La Trobe University have extended their hours and opened up tens of thousands of additional appointments.
The booster blitz comes as Victoria recorded 20,769 new local Covid cases and 18 more deaths overnight on Wednesday.
There are currently 1,173 people in hospital being treated with the virus, with 125 in intensive care units and 42 of those using a ventilator.
The booster blitz comes as Victoria recorded 20,769 new local Covid cases and 18 more deaths overnight on Wednesday (pictured, a health worker outside a testing site in Melbourne)
On Tuesday, the state implemented an unprecedented ‘Code Brown’ as healthcare workers are stretched thin amid rising Covid hospitalisations.
Under the new policy, healthcare workers can have their leave cancelled, be redeployed to different departments and elective procedures cancelled.
The state government could be forced to backflip on a decision to define IVF procedures as ‘non-urgent’ after the ruling caused major backlash.
Hopeful parents in the midst of gruelling procedures took to social media to accuse the government of robbing them of their last chance to have children.
Acting Deputy Premier James Merlino on Tuesday promised IVF services would be resumed ‘as quickly as possible’ after being slammed for the ‘cruel’ policy.
The Code Brown will be implemented across the state and will affect all Melbourne public hospitals and major regional hospitals.
The state has implemented a ‘Code Brown’ as healthcare workers are stretched thin amid rising Covid hospitalisations (pictured, a woman is vaccinated in Melbourne)
Mr Andrews said the extra demands the Code Brown would place on Victoria’s health service and its workers was appreciated by the community.
‘I just want to send a really clear message to all of our health workers, regardless of what role you play in the system, all of us as Victorians are deeply grateful to you for your commitment, for your compassion and for the role that you play every hour of every shift,’ he said on Wednesday.
‘It’s understood and we honour that work and we do appreciate that things are very challenging in our health system at the moment.’
The reduced interval between doses comes after the Victorian government on Monday moved to mandate a third dose for workers in several industries.
Those mandated to get a third jab include aged care and disability workers, healthcare workers, emergency service workers, and correctional facility workers.
People in hotel quarantines, food distribution and abattoir, meat, poultry and seafood processing are also part of the mandate.
Workers who are eligible for a third dose have until February 12 to get vaccinated while those not currently eligible have three months and two weeks from the date they received their second dose.