MODERNA vaccines continue to trickle into Ballarat as a leading epidemiologist urges New South Wales and Victoria to redouble COVID vaccination efforts for under-40s.
Epidemiologist Mary Louise McLawshas called on state-run hubs to reduce the gap between Pfizer doses from six weeks down to four in a bid to get more young people fully vaccinated sooner, particularly under threat from the delta variant.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state had been looking at shortening Pfizer intervals but needed vaccine certainty in supply from the federal government.
This comes as Victoria recorded 705 new active COVID cases and one death on Monday. There was one new infection in Ballarat, which was understood to be the partner of a known case, and two cases reported on Sunday.
Three more COVID exposure sites have been confirmed in Ballarat with Fruit Shack in Wendouree listed as a tier one site for September 21. Table 28 on Bakery Hill and Officeworks on Creswick Road have been listed as tier two exposures for September 23 with some individuals named tier one contacts and to isolate for at least 14 days.
"If we can get that certainty of vaccine supply then we may be able to bring those forward and that would help us reach 70 per cent double-dose faster and in turn, 80 per cent double-dose faster as well," Mr Andrews said.
The premier said more than 80 per cent of new cases were aged under-50, with a quarter aged in their 20s.
Intervals for AstraZeneca vaccinations, available to all 18-plus, were halved from 12 weeks to six to both bring this in line with a lengthened-out Pfizer interval and to get those who received this vaccine fully jabbed sooner.
Some Ballarat pharmacies have started taking bookings for new Moderna vaccines this week. Other community pharmacies remain hopeful of receiving vaccine supply by the week's end.
Most already offer AstraZeneca vaccines, which is the only jab available to over-60s and is manufactured in Australia.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was making progress on being able to make mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, in Australia so it need not rely on imports.
The federal government has asked Pfizer to apply to Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration for approval to vaccinate younger children.
It also wants states to open their borders in time for Christmas, but has been receiving pushback from some, including Queensland. Tasmania is also reticent to open its doors until all of its residents as young as 12 have been given the chance to get a jab.
In Victoria, Pfizer is available to children aged 12-plus.
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