Australia on cusp of vaccination milestone

Australia is on the cusp of having 70 per cent of eligible residents receiving their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.

© James Ross/AAP PHOTOS Australia is poised to reach a vaccine milestone as national cabinet meets to discuss the pandemic.

More than 305,000 doses of the vaccine were distributed across the country on Wednesday, the latest government data shows.

Nationwide, 69.8 per cent of people aged over 16 have received their first dose, while just under 45 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

It’s expected Australia will cross the 70 per cent first-dose threshold on Friday, as national cabinet meets to discuss the pandemic response.

While the number of people protected by the vaccine continues to rise, so too does the number of virus cases in hotspot areas, forcing some areas in NSW and Victoria back into lockdown.

Local government areas of Albury and Lismore have returned into a seven-day lockdown after new COVID-19 cases were detected.

Meanwhile, Ballarat will also go into lockdown for one week after three more cases.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been deployed to the area to help meet demand.

Victoria recorded 514 new COVID-19 cases in the most recent reporting period, the highest single-day total since the height of the second wave in 2020.

With the state almost at 70 per cent of its residents receiving a first vaccine dose, Mr Andrews announced an easing of some lockdown restrictions.

Vaccinated people will be able to spend time outdoors with up to five people from two households, while those who are not fully vaccinated can socialise outdoors with one other person.

Movement restrictions have also increased from five to 10 kilometres from home.

In NSW, 12 local government areas have come out of lockdown as the state inches towards having 50 per cent of over-16s being fully vaccinated.

The state recorded 1351 cases and 12 deaths in the most recent reporting period, which has taken the death toll from the current outbreak beyond 200.

A further 15 cases were reported in the ACT, as its lockdown continues.

Queensland recorded one new case of the virus, connected to a cluster south of Brisbane, with the state set to welcome walk-in appointments to its vaccine hubs.

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