Health experts warn road map has herd immunity shortfall

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Nancy Baxter, an epidemiologist and head of Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health, welcomed the fact that governments had set targets for vaccination because “it’s important to give people something to aim for”.

“When we are at 70 per cent of those 16 and over, things will definitely be better. Every percentage of people vaccinated accrues a benefit. But there is not a lot of specificity in the plan and there is a long time between now and then,” Professor Baxter said.

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“I don’t think these are ambitious goals. We have to think about how to get every one we can vaccinated. There will also need to be a willingness to adapt from government as the variant we are dealing with then might be different to now.”

Melbourne University epidemiologist Tony Blakely, writing for The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age, said 90 per cent vaccine coverage – including children – would be needed for herd immunity.

He described the plan as “actually pretty good” because “in setting a target of 70 per cent to move into Phase B (transition phase), then 80 per cent coverage to move into Phase C (consolidation).”

“Both provides targets we can aspire to with collective carrots when we get there, and clearly explains the role of non-vaccine measures during these transitions”.

“The plan also lays down a framework for more rewards to those who are fully vaccinated. For example, first access to free travel from and returning to Australia.”

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