FIFTEEN-year-old Taylah was among those rolling-up her sleeve as Ballarat topped more than 70 per cent of residents fully vaccinated.
This milestone only accounts for those aged 15-plus, despite children as young as 12 able to now access jabs, but is a key target confirmed one day after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced an earlier than expected easing in some restrictions.
Taylah said the decision for her was simple.
"This is an idea I had to be able to stop [COVID] spreading, especially at school," Taylah said. "I want to be seeing my friends and getting back to regular life."
City of Ballarat has recorded 70.6 per cent of residents aged 15-plus double jabbed, federal health data released on Monday shows. This is a 7.1 percentage point jump in second doses the past week.
Click the graphic below to see how the regional Victorian vaccination race has played out.
Community health leaders had predicted a sharp rise with greater vaccine access, particularly via pharmacies, and a shortened Pfizer interval starting to show.
UFS chief executive officer Lynne McLennan said 70 per cent was an important milestone for the city, but there remained a lot of work in protecting against the deadly virus.
"COVID is still a very significant risk for people," Ms McLennan said. "I don't believe we can truly celebrate until we reach 90-plus per cent. There are still active cases in Ballarat and there remains a high risk for anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated."
There are still active cases in Ballarat and there remains a high risk for anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated.Lynne McLennan, UFS chief executive officer
National modelling estimates Australia's 80 per cent fully jabbed target for over-16s - a key point in Victoria's next road map step - equates to 64 per cent of total population protected.
More than 95 per cent of Ballarat residents, aged 15-plus, have had their first jab, the latest data shows.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said worldwide trends indicated follow-up for second doses was high and, with such a strong first dose level, this put Ballarat in a strong position.
Mr Poulton maintained a 95-plus per cent full vaccination rate would offer the city the best protection moving forward, including for businesses and events working to navigate patron compliance rules and vaccine passports.
"We can't take our foot off the accelerator. We're coming out of lockdowns sooner because we're getting high vaccination rates and 80 per cent statewide is the basis for even more restrictions easing," Mr Poulton said.
"A lot comes back to access and I think shifting to more pop-ups is really helping...We've got plenty of supply now; education, we're getting there; we need to nail access, it's got to be easy to get."
When could we hit the next milestone?
City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said residents had gone above and beyond in their vaccine response. Cr Moloney said with a 95 per cent first jab achieved, it would be realistic to expect this matched in double doses.
"Now we're at a point where hopefully lockdown number eight really was our last lockdown. From what the premier has said, there is a lot of hope these lockdowns won't happen again and we can all start to see some sunshine come our way," Cr Moloney said.
"We finally have some optimism coming back in the city again. I've been talking to businesses who are enthusiastic and working towards Melbourne visitors coming back in two to two-and-a-half weeks time.
"Most people have family and friends in Melbourne they can hopefully welcome back in our city soon.
"We can all be walking with a bit more spring in our steps today...People have clearly voted with vaccination what they want."
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Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said for Ballarat to pass 70 per cent full vaccinations clear before the state average rate was telling.
Ballarat had almost caught Bendigo (71 per cent) in double jabs with regional cities Geelong (74.6 per cent) and Warrnambool (79.8 per cent) having long set the pace in regional Victoria.
"What we've seen in the community is for Ballarat to have really taken a lead in the state's vaccination roll-out," Ms Addison said. "For the community to be coming out in such high numbers in Ballarat really helps the whole state."
While 15-year-old Taylah was among the latest to become fully vaccinated, her mum Kerry was among one of the earliest.
Kerry, who lives with asthma, said vaccination was an easy choice - she would do anything to protect her children, especially when they did not have a chance to get a vaccination for themselves.
Ballarat recorded three new COVID infections on Monday with 69 active cases.
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