Congratulations, Canberra, for collectively rolling up your sleeve to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In reaching a fully vaccinated rate of 70 per cent for people aged 16 and over, you have helped to get us well on the way to being able to safely reopen our country.
Thank you to all of the ACT healthcare workers for everything you have done.
You have been on the ground from the start, responding to the beginning of this pandemic last year, and now with the vaccine protecting us.
All states and territories are playing a vital role and fast closing in on this important milestone.
The day when we will achieve a fully vaccinated rate of 70 per cent in every state and territory is not far off - and it will be a testament to the resolve, resilience and fortitude of our nation.
Everyone from Townsville in North Queensland to Burnie in Tasmania who has made the decision to get vaccinated is protecting themselves and their community, and helping us get back to the things we all love to do.
With our nationwide double-dose rate now sitting at approximately 61 per cent and rising fast, Australians have again demonstrated we understand the benefits of vaccination and how it can save lives and avoid serious illness.
We have seen this through our world-leading child immunisation rates in general as well as the rate at which Australians are now getting vaccinated against COVID-19, exceeding rates of vaccination of many countries across the globe.
The Doherty Institute modelling has indicated that when we hit levels of 70 per cent double-dose vaccination across the country, we can start to safely open up, with fewer lockdowns allowing us to enjoy dinners with family and friends and our children being back at school. At 80 per cent we can have even more freedoms, and the opportunity to explore and see loved ones across borders - international and domestic.
Every day we are getting closer. Every day we see records being met and exceeded. Every day we see more people across Australia roll up their sleeves.
I urge everyone who has had their first dose to make sure they get their second for maximum protection.
And for those who are not yet vaccinated, my message is clear: the vaccines available in Australia provide a high level of protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19, and we have secured strong supplies.
I encourage every eligible person who is not yet vaccinated to make an appointment to go and get the vaccine and be part of this significant achievement.
- Greg Hunt is the federal Health Minister.