Australians are being cautioned by the nation’s peak medical body to not view the achievement of key vaccination milestones as “freedom day”.
The Australian Medical Association has cautiously backed the government’s national plan to reopen that nation but warned politicians against selling vaccination targets as a ticket to freedom.
“Achievement of the 70 per cent or 80 per cent vaccination targets in the national plan or the Doherty modelling cannot be regarded or promoted as being ‘freedom day’,” the AMA’s communique said on Sunday.
“These targets must be treated as incremental steps towards higher benchmarks that Doherty will provide further advice on.”
Under the national plan, restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals will be eased once 70 and 80 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
The nation is projected to reach the 70 per cent target in October.
The statement, backed by the body’s 35-member federal council, comes after the Doherty Institute provided updated advice to national cabinet on Friday.
National cabinet was told it would be prudent to maintain “medium” public health measures, such as stay-at-home orders, in areas of concern until an 80 per cent vaccination target was reached.
Advice from the AMA is in lock-step with the Doherty Institute’s advice, with the communique outlining that Australia cannot solely rely on a vaccination strategy.
“Public health measures including restrictions, social distancing, and personal hygiene, alongside testing, contact tracing and quarantine must remain part of the suite of measures used to effectively manage the pandemic,” the statement said.
The AMA said while lockdowns remained an effective tool, the economic and social cost was “not sustainable”.
“Lockdowns are an effective tool and, while we wait for vaccination rates to significantly improve, necessary to protect our health system and the community,” the statement said.
“However, the emergence of the Delta strain has shown that it is very difficult to achieve elimination through lockdowns and we know that they come at a significant social and economic cost that is not sustainable.”