UPDATED 2:00 pm: The ACT was originally scheduled to have 80 per cent of its population over the age of 16 fully vaccinated by mid-November, but the Territory will likely hit this milestone in late October as more Pfizer vaccines from the UK deal and Moderna shipments arrive next week.
More than 30,000 extra Pfizer appointments became available at the AIS mass vaccination hub from yesterday, resulting in 19,500 first dose appointments being brought forward.
The ACT is also due to receive 167,000 Moderna vaccines over the coming months if the nation’s 10 million scheduled doses are distributed on a population basis.
The Commonwealth has advised that most new Pfizer doses coming from the UK deal will go to local GPs, creating as many as 60,000 new booking opportunities.
Moderna will initially be administered through the pharmacy network.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said this meant people with bookings in October or November may be able to get their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine sooner through GPs and pharmacies.
“We have no [problems with] vaccine hesitancy in the ACT; we are seeing such strong levels of bookings,” Mr Barr said.
“What has been holding the Territory back has been a lack of vaccine supplies.
“But now that those supply issues are being overcome, it is incredibly encouraging to see how many people are coming forward to get vaccinated, making their bookings and bringing their bookings forward when the opportunity arises.”
Just over 75 per cent of Canberrans over the age of 16 have had their first dose, rising to over 95 per cent for Canberrans over the age of 60.
“There is every indication younger Canberrans will follow the same path as the older cohorts in getting vaccinated,” Mr Barr said.
“We still have a way to go but Canberrans are showing great willingness to get vaccinated and this is so critical because a highly vaccinated Canberra is a safer Canberra.
“Our nation-leading vaccination program should give everyone great confidence that there will be much better times ahead later this year. ”
More than 70,000 people are booked for their first dose at ACT Government clinics.
But the extra doses are unlikely to impact the ACT’s roadmap out of the current lockdown, which will be announced by the Chief Minister and the Chief Health Officer on Tuesday (14 September).
“We will be looking at our plan in the context of particular thresholds, in terms of vaccination levels of the population 12 years and older and the need for vaccines to become effective two weeks after [being administered],” he said.
“I hope it is now clear in the minds of Canberrans that you do not get immediate protection from your first dose or full protection for your second dose until about two weeks after you have had the jab – your body needs time to develop your immune response.
“People should not focus on the day we pass a particular milestone, but two weeks after when the vaccine becomes effective.”
12:30 pm: There are 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the ACT overnight, and in what Chief Minister Andrew Barr described at today’s press briefing as “excellent news”, 14 are already linked to existing cases.
Nine were in quarantine during their entire infectious period, which Mr Barr said was “another good sign”.
However, six people spent time in the community and 16 people are hospitalised including three in intensive care, one of whom requires ventilation.
A detainee at the AMC on transfer into the prison was identified after the 8:00 pm cut-off so is not one of the 15 new cases in the ACT. There are few details about this case at this stage.
Mr Barr has made no comment on reports that fragments of COVID-19 have been found in Yass sewage, although it’s possible the Local Government Area may return immediately to quarantine.
But he said some of the most severely ill people in the Southern Area Health Service may need to come to Canberra Hospital, the only tertiary hospital in the region, as adjoining regional NSW opens up.
The Chief Minister said it had been a strong day for testing as 3202 people came forward. But as ACT Policing, WorkSafe and Access Canberra continue “a very strong compliance program”, there are a number of businesses where staff are still failing to follow public health directions and they will face far more regular enforcement.
Chief Health Office Dr Kerryn Coleman said the outbreak now totals 478 cases, of whom 250 are active cases and 228 have recovered fully. Of the 16 people who are hospitalised, 13 are wholly unvaccinated and two have had one dose. The youngest is under 12 and the oldest is 75.
Mr Barr said that 19,500 first dose appointments have been brought forward with the release of additional appointments yesterday. People with existing dates in late October and early November can likely now be vaccinated earlier.
The Commonwealth has advised that the majority of new Pfizer doses coming from the United Kingdom deal will go to local GPs, creating as many as 60,000 new booking opportunities. Ten million Moderna vaccines will also arrive in Australia in the coming months.
Mr Barr said it was anticipated around 167,000 of these doses would come to the ACT and will be available through pharmacies.
In the ACT, 75 per cent of the over-16 population have had their first dose, and more than 70,000 people are booked for their first dose at ACT Government clinics, in addition to those receiving vaccine from their GP. Of the ACT’s 60-plus population, 95 per cent have now had now at least one dose of vaccine, a national first.
Mr Barr said younger age groups were also coming forward at high rates and there was “every indication” they would follow the path set by older Canberrans.
“We have no doubts about vaccine hesitancy in the ACT. What’s been holding the ACT back is lack of vaccine supply,” Mr Barr said.
“It is incredibly encouraging how many people are coming forward. We still have a way to go, but Canberrans are showing great willingness to get vaccinated.”
The Chief Minister characterised a highly vaccinated Canberra as a safer Canberra.
“There will be much better times ahead later this year,” he promised.
11:55 am: The ACT has recorded 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8:00 pm last night.
Of the 15 cases, 14 are linked to current exposure sites and identified close contacts. One remains under investigation.
Nine were in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious period; six spent part of their infectious period in the community.
There are currently 16 people in hospital with COVID, three are in intensive care and one requires ventilation.
Yesterday, 3202 tests were completed.
ACT Policing, WorkSafe and Access Canberra conducted 602 traffic stops. Nine people were directed to leave the ACT.
Yesterday, the ACT reached 75 per cent of the population having at least one vaccine shot, and 95 per cent of people aged 60 and over have had at least one dose – a national first for the ACT.
NSW today announced 1599 locally acquired cases and eight deaths. Yesterday, NSW reported 1532 new cases and nine deaths.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said none of the people who died in the past 24 hours were vaccinated. Three were in their 80s, two in their 70s, one in their 50s, one in their 40s, and one in their 30s. All had underlying health conditions, he said.
Victoria has recorded 450 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Yesterday, Victoria recorded 334 local cases.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Census Campus in Belconnen has been listed as an exposure location, as have a number of supermarkets and pharmacies across Canberra.
Anyone on level one of the Census Campus between 8:40 am and 5:30 pm on Monday, 6 September, is considered a casual contact while anyone in the rest of the building during this time is being told to monitor for symptoms.
Woolworths Belconnen at Westfield has also been listed as a casual exposure site between 6:25 pm and 7:20 pm on Tuesday, 31 August, and people at Dan Murphy’s at the Westfield between 6:15 pm and 7:00 pm on the same day are being told to monitor for symptoms.
Priceline Pharmacy Gungahlin for Saturday, 4 September, between 4:35 pm and 5:25 pm was also named as a ‘monitor for symptoms location.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- loss of smell or taste
- runny or blocked nose.
A full list of the new exposure locations, which includes stores in Gungahlin, Holt, Kippax, Dunlop and Griffith, as well as two new public transport routes, can be found at covid19.act.gov.au.
Health authorities have used the new list of exposure locations to remind Canberrans to get tested even if they only have mild symptoms.
Testing remains strong in the ACT, providing wide coverage of the developing COVID situation in the Territory.
The ACT’s vaccination rate is accelerating after 30,000 extra Pfizer appointments became available at the AIS mass vaccination hub.
Almost 14,400 first jab appointments were made or moved closer yesterday (10 September) after the new appointments became available.
The announcement came on the same day that the ACT reached the 50 per cent fully vaccinated milestone.
This weekend, it is forecast that 75 per cent of ACT residents over the age of 16 will have received at least one jab.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman will update the ACT’s COVID-19 situation at 11:45 am.
More to come.