Vic backs vaccine call for COVID-hit areas

·3-min read

Pleas for more vaccines to be sent to Melbourne's suburbs worst-hit by COVID-19 are being heeded by the state.

Of the 324 new locally acquired infections reported in Victoria on Thursday, 297 came from the city's northern (195) and western (102) suburbs.

GPs, pharmacists and community leaders from Melbourne's north are calling for the federal and state governments to "urgently" redirect Pfizer doses to the region, which has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the state.

They want a vaccination blitz for the area, similar to the targeted rollout in western Sydney, at more culturally appropriate sites.

Australian Multicultural Foundation executive director Hass Dellal said diverse communities should be given access to vaccination sites where they feel comfortable, with health workers that speak their language.

"Sites like the Islamic Museum of Australia, in partnership with the Preston Mosque, are open. We are ready," museum founder Moustafa Fahour said.

Youth Activating Youth executive director Ahmed Hassan said young people in Melbourne's north were waiting "too long" to get vaccinated.

He has been running educational sessions about the vaccine, but says more work is needed to better inform young people from diverse backgrounds.

"The main reason a lot of young people are being hospitalised is because of misinformation," Mr Hassan said.

Health Minister Martin Foley said about half of the state's vaccine allocations were already going to the city's COVID-hit north and west, but he strongly supported the call.

"We will be doing all we can in our available stocks to reprioritise even more of those vaccines," he said.

"But we would also clearly support the call for the Commonwealth to deliver as much as they possibly can to the north and west.

The state government will also spend $2 million to increase health messaging designed by multicultural communities to promote vaccination and COVIDSafe behaviour.

Mr Dellal welcomed the health minister's comments but said "it's not a question of who needs to do what - it just needs to happen".

Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews says the Burnett Institute is working on detailed modelling to be released in the coming week.

He says it will forecast the peak of the state's COVID-19 outbreak, how the healthcare system will respond and how vaccine uptake will slow spread.

Under the health department's latest projections, Victoria will reach a total of 18,000 active cases by October 16, about 10 times the current rate of infection.

Of those projected cases, 800 will need hospital treatment, including 250 who will require an intensive care bed.

There are about 400 staffed and available intensive care beds available in Victoria daily.

The state can make 1500 available intensive care beds in the public hospital system if required, though the premier in April 2020 announced $1.3 billion in funds to create 4000.

There is an "enormous amount of work" being done to prepare the state's hospitals for a surge in cases, Mr Andrews says.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar says the concern remains that entire households are already infected before the first person comes forward for testing, with the virus then already spreading to adjoining households.

"(It's) not only indicating we have seen some level of household-to-household contact but far more worryingly, coronavirus has been in that situation for a number of days, possibly a number of weeks," he told reporters.

"That makes it harder for everybody to track down, which is why we are seeing the escalation of numbers as we pick up."

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