AUSTRALIA will get four million doses of Pfizer vaccine after the government cut a deal with the United Kingdom.
Prime minister Scott Morrison said it was good news even as he acknowledged the tragedy of deaths and escalating COVID-19 outbreaks in parts of the country.
"There are four million reasons to be hopeful today," he has told reporters.
Premier Daniel Andrews earlier today said a raft of new healthcare workers will be enlisted to aid the rollout (see updates to this story from 12.10pm below).
The plane is on the tarmac now and will leave tomorrow, Australian time, Mr Morrison said.
"Those doses will be coming over the course of the next few weeks, which will see us double the amount of Pfizer doses that we had during September," he said.
The move will fast track Australia's economic reopening, Mr Morrison said.
The doses will be distributed on a per capita basis across the states and territories at both state based vaccine hubs and GP clinics.
"I said I would leave no stone unturned and I can tell you I have been turning over some stones in recent times to ensure that we can progress the vaccination program as quickly as we possibly can," Mr Morrison said.
He thanked the British government and the Australian teams negotiating legal and practical arrangements in recent weeks.
UNVACCINATED Victorians will not be welcome at many venues once the state reaches its double dose thresholds, premier Daniel Andrews says.
It will happen even though wider community lockdowns will be far less relevant, he said.
That might seem a bit harsh, but I've said this before and I will make the point again, I am not going to lock the whole state down to protect people who would not protect themselves," Mr Andrews said.
"Yes, there is some supply issues with vaccine at the moment, but by the time we get to 70 or 80 per cent, everybody who was to be vaccinated would have been given an opportunity to do so.
"So I think if you are not vaccinated, and you could be, the chances of you booking a ticket at a sporting event, going to a pub, go to out and about to different places, will be very limited."
The comments come after Mr Andrews spoke with prime minister Scott Morrison about the path out of lockdown on Wednesday evening.
VICTORIA will ramp up vaccine training to include dentists, podiatrists and paramedicine students among a raft of medical workers to be enlisted into the rollout.
Pharmacists and midwifes are also among professionals who will soon be able to administer jabs, premier Daniel Andrews said.
"Everybody who can do this safely needs to be part of the team as we grow and expand the number of vaccinations that we do, with expanded hours, with more appointments offered over time."
The premier said their deployment would depend on vaccine supply but still expected rises in the number of jabs available thanks to the federal government.
Mr Andrews revealed the new details hours after authorities confirmed one person had died and another 208 had tested positive for COVID-19 in the 24 hours to midnight.
Health authorities processed about 6000 tests from the Shepparton outbreak on Thursday.
"That is a significant thing to have got through, a big chunk of those day 13 tests given this [are] people isolated away as close contacts," Mr Andrews said.
ONE person has died and another 208 have tested positive for COVID-19 in Victoria on Thursday.
The new cases were acquired locally and found from more than 48,000 tests.
A positive case was also acquired overseas and is in hotel quarantine.
Of the locally acquired cases, 96 have been linked to known cases and outbreaks.
More than 33,500 Victorians received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, taking the state's total number of doses administered to 2,517,338.
Victoria's active coronavirus case tally now sits at 1180.
As cases rise, the dosage interval for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been reduced from 12 weeks to six weeks.
It brings the interval in line with the Pfizer vaccine, which is also six weeks.
The changes come as evidence shows a double dose is the highest protection against the Delta COVID-19 variant.
There were 52,000 available AstraZeneca appointments available for booking in the next two weeks, the state's acting chief health officer Professor Ben Cowie said on Thursday.
"It's about getting as many second doses into people as we possibly can," he said.
He advised those with a first dose of AstraZeneca not to delay until 12 weeks and rebook sooner.
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