Nation on cusp of largest vaccine rollout

·2-min read

As medical hubs prepare for the largest vaccination program in Australia's history, there were no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases recorded anywhere on Saturday.

It was a welcome result particularly in Victoria as the state staves off an outbreak linked to Melbourne Airport hotel the Holiday Inn.

While that cluster was "far from being over", the numbers indicated it was "increasingly under control", Health Minister Martin Foley said.

"We are still approaching that outbreak with the utmost vigilance and caution and we are still prepared for the possibility of more locally-acquired cases," he said.

Victorian authorities will consider the further easing of restrictions next Friday.

Just 25 active cases remain in the state, with one person in hospital.

Tasmania reopened to Victoria on Saturday, allowing hundreds of arrivals from the mainland state out of quarantine.

However the island state still considers about 30 sites in Victoria high risk - people who have been to those sites are not allowed to visit unless they are an essential traveller.

Meanwhile, border and quarantine staff, vaccination teams, aged care residents and workers, and emergency and intensive care workers will be among the first to receive the free Pfizer vaccine from Monday.

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are required at least three weeks apart and it must be stored and transported at -70C.

While visiting a vaccination hub at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Friday, the PM mentioned state health officers were monitoring whether to make vaccinations compulsory for some workers.

A perception of the vaccine being mandatory fuelled COVID anti-vax demonstrations across the country on Saturday.

Protesters' clashes with police in Melbourne erupted into out-of-control scenes around South Melbourne, with police making 20 arrests.

These included 15 people fined for defying health directions and five people charged for resisting arrest, hindering police and refusing to provide details.

In Sydney, celebrity conspiracy theorist Pete Evans addressed hundreds at Hyde Park.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton implored people to rely on government health sites and other trusted sources for their information about vaccines.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey found men (76 per cent) were more likely than women (71 per cent) to agree or strongly agree with getting the jab.

There was also stronger support for it among people aged over 65 than younger Australians.