The Victorian government will provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to under 40s at its state-run vaccine clinics and has launched the first vaccination operation in the country at a former Bunnings site.
Victoria, on the third day of her seven-day lockdown, recorded 11 new locally transmitted cases on Sunday, all linked to the Hobsons Bay group. That group started in the west and southwest of Melbourne with a professor from Al-Taqwa College.
Of Sunday’s cases, four are Al-Taqwa College students, three are domestic contacts for a confirmed case at the Wolf Cafe and Eatery in Altona North, while another is associated with a case at Newport Football Club. Three are linked to the CS Square mall in Caroline Springs.
At the Flemington Public Housing Tower, where there were positive cases within a family, Victoria authorities reported that all residents on the 17th floor had tested negative.
“That is very nice. It does not mean that we are out of the woods there, it does not mean that we can change the configuration, but it is better to have negative results than positive, ”said Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.
The state is still desperately trying to find out how the outbreak started, and Andrews cited concerns about mysterious cases when asked if the lockdown could continue after its scheduled end on Thursday.
In an effort to increase vaccination rates, the Victorian government announced that it would begin administering doses of AstraZeneca to people ages 18 to 39 at nine of its state vaccine clinics.
More state clinics will begin administering the vaccine to those under 40 in the near future. The state government wants to evaluate the demand and a rigorous new informed consent process before reflecting the focus on its network of 50 state clinics.
“I’m a 52-year-old guy, if I was 25 and AstraZeneca was the only vaccine available to me today, I would get it,” said Health Director Professor Brett Sutton.
“Of course, it is your individual choice, but I have said throughout that the best vaccine to get is the one that is available to you today.”
It will also conduct a “soft launch” of a self-service vaccination center to be run by Pfizer at a former Bunnings site in Melton. The drive-through operation will deliver 10,000 doses per week and is expected to increase to include AstraZeneca doses if successful.
“You book, you drive, you roll down your window, you roll up your sleeves, you take a hit, it’s that easy,” said Naomi Bromley, deputy director of Victoria’s Covid response. “This is a fantastic addition to our existing state infrastructure. It will be a really good, convenient, simple and safe way for Victorians to get vaccinated. “
The cars will be carried out in tranches, initially consisting of about 10 cars, before sitting in a waiting room after the jab, where roving nurses will monitor for side effects.
The government also announced that starting Monday, children ages 12-15 with specific medical conditions, or who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, will be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine at state clinics, in addition to doctors from Headboard.
The state continues to warn that its access to Pfizer supplies remains limited. There are no supply restrictions for AstraZeneca.
When asked if Victoria’s lockdown could be extended beyond Thursday, Andrews replied only that the state would be locked “no longer than necessary.”
“But there is this ongoing challenge that we have in the two cases that started these two separate chains of transmission and this outbreak, we can’t figure out where they got it,” he said. “Those mystery cases, which I think the Victorians understood well how challenging a mystery case is, means that there is at least one other or group of cases somewhere.”
Andrews said some Victorians broke the rules and visited loved ones during the current outbreak.
“Just think of the person you love the most. And then imagine them on a fan fighting for every breath, ”he said. “And keep that image in your mind every time you think about making a bad choice.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism