Australia passes COVID vaccine milestone

Australia hit 75.4 per cent first-dose vaccination of its 16-plus population on Saturday.
Australia hit 75.4 per cent first-dose vaccination of its 16-plus population on Saturday.

Three in four Australians aged 16 and over have now had at least their first COVID-19 vaccine, as deaths in NSW and Victoria continue to rise.

In another milestone for the quickening national rollout, Australia hit 75.4 per cent first-dose vaccination of its 16-plus population on Saturday.

"I'm pleased to report 75 per cent of the nation's 16s and over, have rolled up their sleeves to receive a first vaccine dose," federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Twitter.

"This means we have less than one million first doses to go before we hit 80 per cent."

The ACT leads the way out of all states and territories with 85.93 per cent first dose coverage, ahead of NSW (85.18 per cent) and Victoria (76.91 per cent).

Minor easing of COVID-19 restrictions will be triggered in Victoria at the 80 per cent single-dose target, which is forecast to be hit mid-week.

More substantial reopening of coronavirus-riddled Victoria and NSW hinges on both states reaching 70 and 80 per cent second-dose markers, under their separate national plan-aligned roadmaps.

Nationwide, 50.95 per cent of Australians 16 and over are now fully vaccinated.

That rate is higher than the national average in NSW (59.25 per cent) and lower in Victoria (46.95 per cent).

It comes as another 12 Australians died with COVID-19 as the federal government put pressure on the states to open up home quarantine to get more people home.

Eleven of the deaths were in NSW, which on Saturday reported 1007 new locally acquired cases.

Three of those deaths, including a man in his 40s, involved people in their homes and not diagnosed with the virus until after they died. Nine had not received a single vaccine dose.

In Victoria, authorities reported 847 new local infections - the highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic. There was also one death, a man in his 80s.

Tourism and Trade Minister Dan Tehan, meanwhile, encouraged the states to rethink their position on home-based quarantine as Christmas nears.

"It would be wonderful if every state and territory began to trial it like they are in South Australia," he said.

"The early indications there are that it is working and working well."

Australian Associated Press