Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he expects everyone who wants the jab to have received their coronavirus vaccines by Christmas in what he hopes will lead to the end of Covid lockdowns.
The PM told Nine’s The Today Show on Thursday morning he is meeting with state leaders on Friday to discuss the pathway moving forward.
Mr Morrison said research from The Doherty Institute will provide help in determining how high vaccination rates need to be to avoid future lockdowns – a number most public health experts put in the 70 to 80 per cent range.
“There will be the supply (of vaccines) and we are hitting more than a million a week now,” Mr Morrison told the program.
“We are really turning it around. We have caught up a lot of ground on this program and Australians are responding really well.”
No end in sight for lockdowns
After badly missing vaccine rollout targets earlier in the year, the PM has been reticent to set hard dates for when the government's so-called fortress Australia approach will relax, and still won't be drawn on when lockdowns could be avoided.
Mr Morrison wouldn't rule out lockdowns still being with us at Christmas, when asked by host Karl Stefanovic about ongoing financial support for those in Greater Sydney.
"So if this lockdown goes until Christmas, you will keep the payments coming?" he asked.
"Yeah, those payment also keep coming," Mr Morrison replied.
While he urged for more Aussies to take up the AstraZeneca jab, he also warned that still wouldn't be enough to avoid lockdowns in the months ahead.
"Lifting those AstraZeneca vaccine rates in NSW will be incredibly helpful. There are more Pfizer vaccines, of course, but the AstraZeneca vaccine and the low rates we have had there need to lift and that will certainly help the efforts with the lockdown.
"But on its own it won't stop the lockdown," he said.
The prime minister noted he does not decide whether states go into lockdown as that is a decision made by state leaders.
But he said vaccinations “can certainly help”.
High vaccination rate can see lockdowns become 'thing of the past'
Mr Morrison told reporters on Wednesday by Christmas we could see “a very different Australia to what we are seeing now”.
"What we are seeing overseas is once countries reach that much higher vaccination rate, that gives their governments a lot more options in the suppression limitations they have to use to deal with the virus,” he said.
"Lockdowns become a thing of the past when you are at that level.
"We are setting the target scientifically, combined with the economic advice as well, and that gets us a roadmap to Christmas, I think, which means we will be living life different at Christmas than we are now."
The prime minister continues to encourage people who had received a shot of AstraZeneca to expedite their second dose. His advice extends beyond locked-down Sydney to people in other parts of the country.
"If they are in a position to do that, then that is consistent with the license for AstraZeneca," Mr Morrison told 3AW.
"I need to get the whole country vaccinated as well and the sooner we get there and it can be done safely, then we should."
Sydney and surrounds will remain locked down until at least the end of August as the city struggles to contain a coronavirus outbreak.
Victoria and South Australia have emerged from lockdown after bringing their respective Delta outbreaks under control.
About 17 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated, leaving the country well behind similar nations five months into the rollout.
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