(Australian Associated Press)
Australia is on track to hit the crucial milestone of 80 per cent coronavirus vaccination coverage in mid-November and could reach 90 per cent just weeks after that.
Vaccine rollout co-ordinator John Frewen revealed the latest government projections for people aged 16 and over at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
“The variable in there is about whether people continue to come forward so I offer these estimates in the spirit of ‘the numbers can change’,” he said.
The end of October is shaping as the likely time 70 per cent double-dose coverage will be reached nationally, before 80 per cent is achieved around mid-November.
Lieutenant General Frewen said it would be possible to hit 90 per cent in late November or early December if people continued to roll up their sleeves.
“That’s a best case,” he said.
Locked-down states and territories are on track to reach the goals before COVID-free jurisdictions like Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
NSW is projected to reach 70 per cent in one week, 80 per cent in mid to late October and 90 per cent in the first two weeks of November.
Victoria is expected to reach the targets in line with national forecasts.
The ACT could reach 70 per cent within a fortnight, 80 per cent in mid to late October and potentially at 90 per cent at the start of November.
A nationwide Essential poll of 1094 people found seven per cent would never agree to being vaccinated, while 10 per cent intended to but had not yet booked.
Nine per cent said they had booked in for a first dose.
Almost 77 per cent of over-16s have now received at least a single shot, while 52.6 are fully vaccinated.
All states and territories have committed to easing restrictions when 70 and 80 per cent double-dose coverage is achieved both nationally and across all jurisdictions.
While case numbers and deaths are expected to rise when clamps are eased, the federal government is refusing to release modelling about how hospitals will cope.
Labor frontbencher and committee chair Katy Gallagher last week requested the documents which were circulated at a national cabinet meeting of federal, state and territory leaders.
Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy said the government maintained all national cabinet documents should be confidential.
“I would be reasonably confident the national cabinet may wish to release the modelling in coming weeks once it’s been finalised,” he told the hearing.
An Administrative Appeals Tribunal judge ruled the leaders’ group convened at the start of the pandemic should not be exempt from freedom of information laws.
In response, the government is trying to pass a bill to ensure national cabinet deliberations remain secret.
Professor Murphy said the federal government was confident in hospital capacity but states and territories wanted more information about individual situations.
“That’s the work that’s being done now,” he said.
“But at an aggregate level, we are confident that the national plan is able to be delivered within the available hospital capacity.”
Victoria recorded 867 new cases and four deaths on Tuesday, while NSW reported 863 infections and seven fatalities.
There were 13 new infections in the ACT.