Three doses of the coronavirus vaccine might soon be required for international travellers hoping to visit Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews warned today, despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing only two doses will be required to enter Australia.
The Victorian Premier said the booster is "critically important" to help protect against Covid-19 and expects the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to make a decision surrounding the definition of "fully vaccinated" as early as this week.
When asked whether three doses will be required of international travellers, Mr Andrews responded: "Well, it'll apply here, in the state of Victoria."
"All the international evidence, all the advice I get from our team is that three doses is what's required in order to be as safe as it can be," Mr Andrews said.
"As far as those who get into the country, and the circumstances in which they get into the country, I think we’ve well established (third dose protocols).
"The weight of evidence suggests a booster, or a third dose, is not really an optional extra. It's critically important," he said.
The news comes after Mr Morrison's announcement yesterday that the border will open to all double-vaccinated foreigners from February 21.
Mr Morrison said two doses "will be sufficient" and a third is not required for arrivals.
But Mr Andrews said he expects the Commonwealth Government to change the view "based on advice that comes from experts" who are "very close to making that decision".
It's already mandatory for Victorian workers in some sectors to receive the booster, including those in health and aged care, disability, emergency services, corrections, quarantine accommodation, food distribution and education.
Border opening to bring boost to tourism sector
Health experts have previously indicated Australia's coronavirus situation was improving, with Omicron cases across the country plateauing.
Tourism operators had been experiencing a downturn due to the virus and the loss of foreign visitors and had been calling on the government to lift the ban on tourists arriving.
Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said while the border reopening would be great to see, a clear plan was needed.
She wants to see guarantees of border officials being able to properly check vaccination statuses, as well as measures for airports to cope with the demand once tourism resumes.
"I think the borders should take into account the health advice and of course it's important to consider whether or not our hospitals can cope," she told reporters earlier on Monday in Canberra.
"What I'm pointing to are the practical steps that have not been done by this government and the problems that will arise if they don't do the hard work."