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‘You can’t distribute what you don’t have’: Supply blamed for not making year 12s vaccine priority

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“Those areas that are seeing the mystery cases – in particular Hobsons Bay, Wyndham and Hume … they present a challenge for all of us in it terms of changing the restrictions going forward,” he said.

Senior government ministers are considering easing some restrictions, including reopening playgrounds and allowing year 12 students back into the classroom.

State government sources, who spoke to The Age on the condition of anonymity to provide insights into high-level discussions, said ministers would consider which restrictions could be wound back as epidemiologists warned reaching zero cases in Victoria was increasingly unlikely.

Government officials are expected to make a final decision on Tuesday about what lockdown will look like beyond Thursday when it was scheduled to end.

More than 26,700 people received their COVID-19 vaccine doses via state-run hubs on Sunday. There are currently no first-dose Pfizer vaccination bookings available at state-run clinics in Victoria, but Mr Foley has urged people not to give up getting one.

“As more becomes available from the Commonwealth, we put more [bookings in the system],” he said.

Victoria records 73 new cases

  • Nine are linked to Shepparton
  • Five are linked to MyCentre Child Care in Broadmeadows 
  • Five are linked to Al-Taqwa College
  • Three are linked to Hobsons Bay
  • Two are linked to Glenroy West Primary School 
  • Two are linked to the Sunshine Hospital emergency department 
  • Two are linked to Chemist Warehouse in Hoppers Crossing
  • One is linked to the wider Royal Melbourne Hospital outbreak
  • One is linked to the St Kilda east outbreak 
  • One is linked to Barkly Square in Brunswick 
  • One is linked to CS Square shopping centre in Caroline Springs 
  • 20 are linked to existing cases, but those original cases don’t have a known source
  • 21 are mystery cases 

Source: Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton

Mr Foley said that, from Monday, general practitioners and pharmacists could administer Pfizer vaccinations to people aged 16 and over.

Forty-nine people are in hospital in Victoria with COVID-19. Of those, 15 are in intensive care, including 11 on a ventilator.

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NSW reported 1290 new local cases on Monday, the highest number ever recorded in a state in one day, and four deaths.

Victorian year 12s to get first vaccine jab before exams

On Monday, Mr Foley blamed a lack of supply for a slow vaccine rollout among year 12 students.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to get to a Pfizer vaccine, which is the recommended vaccine for the age group that we’re talking about … through our state-run systems today because they’re all booked.”

Mr Foley said first doses had always been the goal for VCE students ahead of exams.

Deputy Premier James Merlino said last week, “we want as many students as possible vaccinated – fully vaccinated, obviously”.

“This is all our aim. We know that vaccination is our pathway out of this pandemic, so we’ll do all we can; we want our [year 12 students] vaccinated by the time they start sitting exams,” he said.

When Mr Foley was asked during the COVID-19 press conference on Monday whether the gap between doses could be shortened to three weeks for year 12 students to speed up the process, he replied authorities would consult the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

Children’s hospital ward, school among new exposure sites

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More coronavirus exposure sites were added on Monday, including the Hume Valley School in Dallas, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The school’s Koroit Avenue campus has been declared a tier-1 site across six days.

Anyone who attended it during the specified period has to get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they receive a negative test result.

The children’s ward at Dandenong Hospital was declared a tier-2 exposure site across three days, from last Wednesday through to Friday, as was ward north 1 at the hospital.

Coles Melbourne Central in the CBD was also declared a tier-2 site for an hour last Wednesday, and a number of service stations, pharmacies and supermarkets across the state were also declared tier-2 sites.

On Sunday evening, Echuca Community for the Aged’s Wharparilla Lodge was listed as a tier-1 site across nearly a fortnight: from Friday, August 13 to Thursday, August 26.

A staff member tested positive to COVID-19, having worked at the lodge across the exposure period.

The staff member is the only positive case related to Wharparilla Lodge, is fully vaccinated and was asymptomatic throughout their infectious period.

All test results for Wharpilla Lodge are negative so far.

Several more tier-2 sites were identified late on Sunday evening, including another Melbourne apartment complex, laundries in Richmond and St Kilda and service stations.

Woolworths at Shepparton was declared a tier-2 exposure site across several hours on Monday, August 23, while Woolworths at Arden Gardens, North Melbourne was declared tier-2 between 4.30 am and 1.30pm on Sunday, August 22.

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