Getting more young people vaccinated will slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Australia, with new modelling showing it should now be the key focus of the rollout to stop outbreaks.
The Doherty Institute modelling, released on Tuesday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, says that young people are peak transmitters of COVID-19 because they tend to come into contact with more people compared to older groups, and a “reorientation” of the vaccine rollout is necessary.
In the Doherty Institute’s report, it says that “vaccine uptake by young adults (aged 16 and over) will strongly influence the impact of vaccination on overall transmission”.
Professor Jodie McVernon from the Doherty Institute participated in a press conference with Scott Morrison on Tuesday, and said while older people are more likely to suffer sever outcomes from COVID-19, vaccinating more young people can help stop it spreading to older populations.
Young people are more mobile and more likely to do be doing “essential” work, while older people tend to come into contact with fewer people.
“So this is showing why at this point a strategic shift to targeting transmission and stopping these people getting exposed in the first place, can substantially improve outcomes,” Professor McVernon said.
Professor McVernon said access to vaccination should be opened to the 30-39 age group from early September, and the 16-29 age group from early October. This will target the key transmitting groups in Australia. She said the “peak spreaders” of COVID-19 are those aged 20-29.
The Doherty Institute’s report has underpinned national cabinet’s planned pathway out of the pandemic, which includes a 70 per cent vaccination target for the next phase of the response. According to the government, once Australia gets to 80 per cent, lockdowns will no longer be necessary and international travel will become more accessible.
Today, the federal government rejected Labor’s suggestion to offer $300 payments to those who got themselves fully vaccinated by December. Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said a cash incentive would be “insulting” to Australians who are already planning to be vaccinated by then.