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Victorians will have access to 300,000 doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine this month at hundreds of pharmacies across the state, premier Daniel Andrews says.
Andrews announced Moderna will be available at 440 pharmacies across the state this week, and a further 281 next week.
But he urged anyone who had not yet booked to take up any available vaccine available to them now and not wait. It comes as the state pushes to get up to 70% and 80% double-dose vaccination targets as part of its roadmap out of lockdown.
“Please don’t defer, please don’t wait, because these things are uncertain. Get the vaccine that is on offer right now,” he said on Monday.
“That’s the most powerful contribution you can make to your safety, your health and of course to us meeting all those national cabinet timelines so we are open the place up.”
Anthony Tassone, president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Pharmacy Guild, said people aged 60 and over could still only access AstraZeneca. He said they should not wait for the other vaccines, noting he already had patients over 60 trying to get Moderna.
“I’m sorry, they are not eligible for that at this stage. Please get AstraZeneca … It is safe and effective.”
Andrews also reiterated that national cabinet had heard on Friday there would be a delay in Pfizer shipments in October, meaning supply to the states would be reduced.
The ACT also expressed concerns about ongoing Pfizer supplies. However, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said on Monday the issue had been resolved over the weekend and supplies would be as previously scheduled.
Victoria reported 567 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, and the death of a woman in her 70s from Moreland. It takes the total number of active cases in the state to 5,675, 85% of whom are under the age of 50.
Of the cases reported onMonday, 87% were in Melbourne’s northern or western suburbs, with 14 cases in regional Victoria.
There were 209 people in hospital, 59 in intensive care, and 40 on a ventilator. Of those in hospital, 86% were not vaccinated, 12% were partially vaccinated, and three people were fully vaccinated.
Close to 40,000 people were vaccinated at state hubs on Sunday, with just over 44% of the over-16 population now double vaccinated.
Protest at CFMEU headquarters turns violent
Meanwhile, hundreds of construction workers protested outside the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union head office in Melbourne’s CBD on Monday morning.
The protest against new mandatory vaccination rules for the building industry comes amid a growing number of outbreaks in the sector in Victoria.
Workers were chanting “fuck the jab” and branch secretary John Setka was booed as he attempted to speak to the crowd.
“Please calm down, can you at least give me the respect to talk. We’re not the enemy, I don’t know what you have heard,” he says to protesters, in a video posted to social media.
“I have never, ever said I support mandatory vaccination.”
Once Setka went back inside, the protesters smashed a glass door to the building. Just before 2pm a protester went inside to meet with union officials.
Andrews said the protests were “not smart, they are not safe”.
“This industry is open at 25%, we want to get to 50%, being vaccinated is an incredibly important part of that,” Andrews said.
“Protests don’t work. Getting vaccinated works, following the rules works. That’s how you stay open, that’s how you get open.”
Monday’s protests come after construction workers set up plastic chairs and tables in the middle of streets across Melbourne on Friday, protesting against the lockdown restrictions that included shutting down tea rooms for morning breaks.
As part of the roadmap announced on Sunday, Andrews announced lockdown in Melbourne would remain in place until 70% of Victorians over the age of 16 were double dose vaccinated, currently forecast for 26 October.
It won’t be until 80% double dose that restrictions are more widely eased, including the reopening of retail, gyms and indoor hospitality for the fully vaccinated.
The majority of Australians aged 18 and over are now eligible for a Covid vaccination if they are willing to consider the AstraZeneca vaccine, and provided they do not have a history of specific health conditions.
In addition to the government’s official eligibility checker, which lists some clinics near your location which might have vaccination appointments available, there are a number of other helpful resources that can help you to find somewhere that has appointments open.
You can find our comprehensive guide to finding a vaccination appointment here.
The Burnet Institute modelling, on which the roadmap is based, estimates Victoria’s case numbers will peak at between 1,400 and 2,900 between 19 and 31 October, with hospitals to face intense pressure with between 1,200 and 2,500 patients requiring hospitalisation in that time.
Andrews said the system would be very stressed, but a balance had to be struck between opening up or having a plan to forever suppress the virus.
“I think we’ve struck a difficult balance,” he said. “One that will see, yes, a very difficult time in our health system, but not one that completely and utterly overwhelms our health system, not just for Covid patients but for every patient.
“And there are lots, thousands of people every year who need hospitalisation for things that are urgent and acute and potentially deadly that don’t relate to Covid.”
– with Australian Association Press