Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that vaccination rates have to reach up to 80 percent for a strong level of protection in the community for the unvaccinated.
“The virus finds the people who are unvaccinated, and that’s what can put stress and strain on your hospital system,” Morrison said on the 7 Network on Thursday.
“You have to be careful about those who are unvaccinated because, as we are seeing all around the world, the hospitals are full of people who are unvaccinated.”
When asked by television presenter David Koch which of the states Victoria or New South Wales was “right” in the way they handled the COVID-19 restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, the prime minister said the unvaccinated are the ones we have to “be careful about.”
Since Oct. 18, New South Wales has surpassed its 80 percent vaccination rate and further eased its restrictions.
The state currently has two different levels of restrictions for the vaccinated and unvaccinated; however, by Dec. 1, all will share the same restrictions and freedoms regardless of vaccination levels.
Victoria is due to ease restrictions on Oct. 22 for the unvaccinated. However, the state government has not set a date for the unvaccinated at which they will share the same freedoms as the fully vaccinated to encourage more vaccinations.
Morrison also said Australia was on the way to becoming one of the most immunised countries in the world after Victoria became the latest state to reach above 70 percent fully vaccinated coverage.
Morrison also expressed his doubts on whether Western Australia (WA) will close its borders until Easter since he appealed to boost vaccination rates.
“I don’t believe it will take that long, frankly. I just don’t,” the prime minister said.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has ruled out opening state borders to Victoria and NSW—states labelled as ‘extreme risk’—in time for Christmas and has recommended restrictions will remain well into 2022.
However, Morrison argued that many states initially said they would not open up by Christmas, but now they are, showing that states could change their course.
Australia is also on track to start a booster shot program for aged care residents in early November, subject to approval by the medicine regulatory agency and immunisation advisory groups.
Morrison said the third round of shots would further provide high levels of protection across nursing homes.
“There is plenty of vaccines for the boosters; they are all sorted,” he said.
The prime minister noted that the reopening of international borders on Nov. 1 would also be monitored keenly.
“We’ll see how that is going because we have to ensure we keep opening consistently; we keep taking steps every day so we can stay safely open,” he said.
“We don’t want to see what has happened in other parts of the world where people have moved too fast.”
As of Oct. 19, 57.4 percent of Australia has been fully vaccinated.