Prepare for future variants: Weimar tells locals

Victorian COVID Response commander Jeroen Weimar addresses Gippsland Multicultural Service members. photograph supplied

Michelle Slater

Victorian COVID Response commander Jeroen Weimar is urging locals to get their third-dose vaccinations leading into the colder months to mitigate any future strains hitting Australia.

Mr Weimar was in Morwell today meeting with Gippsland Multicultural Service members and Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation as well as local public health officials.

He said there were 6000 available third vaccine appointments in Gippsland, with 53 per cent of the state already jabbed with three doses.

Regional Victorian third-dose rates remain on par with the state’s average, with a near 50 per cent uptake.

“As summer winds to a close, we have to start turning our minds towards autumn and winter and get ready for what we suspect will be other strains of COVID hitting our shores at some time in coming months,” Mr Weimar said.

“It’s really important for all of us to get ready for this and get our third-dose vaccines.

“Our vaccine program is our most important defence for all of us and I’d really like to see triple dose vaccinations before we get into the depth of autumn and winter.”

Mr Weimar’s visit coincided with a further easing of restrictions, including opening up density limits and dancefloors in hospitality venues, and scrapping QR codes in certain settings.

He also flagged there could be a further easing mask rules in indoor settings, with future announcements to be made on this.

Mr Weimar commended residents for abiding by the rules and taking individual action, which had a “massive impact” on reducing cases, particularly in the wake of the January outbreak.

“There is evidence in the international community that we should expect to see waves of COVID-19 emerge in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.

“What we saw was when Omicron hit Australia at the same time as the rest of the world, we had to adjust our response in real-time.

“We need to work with the international community to see how we best adjust and prepare for future COVID variants.”