Grattan Institute: 80% COVID-19 vaccination rate needed for Australia to reopen

An 80 per cent vaccination rate is needed to end lockdowns, the Grattan Institute says. Picture: Geoff Jones
An 80 per cent vaccination rate is needed to end lockdowns, the Grattan Institute says. Picture: Geoff Jones

Australia has been warned 80 per cent of all 25.7 million residents being fully-vaccinated is the "only way" to see life return to normal.

The Grattan Institute has demanded national cabinet make lockdowns and border closures a thing of the past by pledging to hit the "ambitious target" by March.

Australians had supported a hardline approach which had averted disaster but, after months punctured by state lockdowns, were increasingly "tired and frustrated" with disruptions to their lives, it warned.

"Australians shouldn't and won't accept high death tolls or indefinite restrictions. Achieving very high vaccination coverage is the only way to avoid these outcomes," its report read.

"We cannot abandon our zero-Covid strategy too early and risk the calamity we have so far avoided.

"But on the other hand, we cannot remain walled inside Fortress Australia indefinitely, cut off from the rest of the world and periodically cut off from one another."

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While no "magic number of vaccines" could eradicate COVID-19, the jab offered "a way out" of limbo by reducing hospitalisation and death, the report said.

"We can vaccinate enough Australians to tame Covid ... [Our targets] will give us the best chance of gradually returning to normal life," it said.

Australia's sluggish rollout has been hampered by supply issues, and a damaging fallout from revelations over AstraZeneca's links to extremely rare blood clotting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the Doherty Institute, tasked with providing a vaccination target needed to reopen, had provided its modelling to the federal government.

State and territory leaders will begin discussions on Australia's reopening timeline at national cabinet on Friday.

Australia's rollout has been hampered by supply issues. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Australia's rollout has been hampered by supply issues. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Grattan said an 80 per cent target was achievable by March, and could even be reached by the end of the year if vaccines were approved for children under 12.

But that would require a drastic increase in full-vaccination rates among the most vulnerable, including over 70s. Just 36.6 per cent of over 70s had received two doses by Sunday, a figure that would need to hit 95 per cent.

To do that, Grattan has called for vaccines to be administered in workplaces, schools, and pop-up clinics.

A number of measures to incentivise uptake were also touted, including a national vaccine lottery and vaccine passports being required for certain activities.

Aged care workers will be required to receive the jab by September, and Grattan said mandating vaccination in other "high-priority" workforces may also be needed.

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This story The vaccination rate needed to end lockdowns first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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