The Victorian government has given a major indication on whether some workers will require a mandatory Covid booster jab.
Victorian authorities have held back on making a call on mandating Covid booster shots despite predictions mandates are not far away.
While there is no word yet on mandates for industries outside of healthcare and other critical sectors, Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas on Friday said the state was moving “increasingly” to a three-jab regime.
Authorities are waiting for advice on the issue before the state’s health minister makes a decision.
“We are looking at how the third regime will be applied, it is a regime that should be treated much the same as the second dose was,” Mr Pallas said.
“Our expectation is that people would do it – they should do it for their health and their community, and we’re not ruling out the need for a mandate moving forward.”
The state recorded 18,167 new infections on Friday – a drop of more than 3000 cases from the 21,966 cases reported on Thursday.
There were 20 deaths and 1096 hospitalisations on Friday.
Of those in hospital, 121 were in intensive care, with 34 on a ventilator.
Despite predictions hospital admissions would rise in the coming weeks, the state recorded a promising drop in 1206 hospitalisations on Friday.
It comes amid concerns the state’s health system has reached breaking point due to a rise in Covid cases.
Amid claims critical cancer and heart surgeries were being postponed within the state’s major hospitals, Premier Daniel Andrews this week acknowledged those affected.
“This is not easy on those patients who are having to wait,” he said.
“We’ve decided to prioritise the sickest patients. It’s a tough decision to make, but it’s there for a reason.
“I’m not minimising the discomfort and challenges involved for patients who can’t get what they need right now, but once we get past this peak, we’ll do everything we can to get everyone the care they need.”
A major vaccination blitz starting on Friday in the state is encouraging tens of thousands of people to line up for a jab.
The blitz, introduced in a bid to lower hospitalisation rates, will run through to Monday in a targeted campaign.
Extra staff will be rostered on at state-run vaccination centres this weekend, with walk-in vaccinations now available at the Royal Exhibition Building, La Trobe University Bundoora, Sandown Racecourse, Dandenong Plaza, Frankston’s Bayside Centre, Sunshine Hospital, Bendigo Vaccination Hub and Ballarat Mercure.
An extra 60,000 appointments had been made available for eligible Victorians.
The state has slashed the time needed between boosters, with people now able to be vaccinated three months after their second dose.
Asked whether Victorians were holding back on getting the jab due to a sense of apathy, chief health officer Brett Sutton said he didn’t believe people were apathetic.
He said ATAGI would likely release advice about the safety of getting a booster for those who had recently recovered from Covid.
“We’ve been provided advice that as long as you’re recovered from acute illness, you can get that dose,” Professor Sutton said.
“ATAGI will provide advice about whether you should get it as soon as you’ve recovered or whether it could be at one or two months.
“It might be that you prime the immune system more if you wait longer, but you don’t have to wait in my view.”