Eighty per cent of Australians will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before lockdowns can end and borders can begin to reopen, one of the nation’s most respected think tanks says.
According to a report released by the Grattan Institute on Friday, the country cannot be reopened “safely” until this target is reached.
The Institute’s 80 per cent objective includes children under 12.
“Opening up too early – for example, at 50 per cent or 70 per cent – would risk rampant spread of the virus and hospitals being overwhelmed,” the “Race to 80” report said.
For groups who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 (including over 70s), the Grattan Institute says vaccination rates must reach at least 95 per cent.
“No magic number of vaccines will rid us of Covid forever. But we can vaccinate enough Australians to ‘tame’ Covid,” the report said.
The Institute called on national cabinet to set a target of 80 per cent vaccination by the end of the year, or by the end of March 2022 at the latest if vaccination for children is delayed.
The Institute also recommended the Federal Government establish a $10 million-a-week vaccine lottery dubbed “Vaxlotto”.
Under Vaxlotto, everyone who has had one jab is automatically entered, and anyone with two jabs has their chances doubled.
State-issued vaccine passports were also recommended for entry into hospitality, sports and entertainment venues, along with domestic flights.
The think tank also called for mandatory vaccination of those who work with vulnerable groups or in high-risk settings, including aged care workers, hospital staff, disability care workers and teachers.
Grattan emphasised although the 80 per cent target was ambitious, it was completely achievable under the right national guidance.
“Australia is scheduled to get more than enough vaccine supplies within months, and surveys show only about 10 per cent of Australians are entrenched anti-vaxxers,” the report said.
“The 80 per cent threshold could be reached as early as the end of this year if a vaccine becomes available in coming months for children under 12.”
At present, only 17.7 per cent of Australia’s population is fully vaccinated.
The Institute said the government should push for 80 per cent to end lockdowns, and then onto 85 per cent to remove all border restrictions for those who are vaccinated.
“Once 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, lockdowns should become a thing of the past, and quarantine requirements should end for fully vaccinated Australian residents and some fully vaccinated international visitors,” the think tank said.