With two states locked down and more than 1000 cases a day in our most populated city, what will reopening Australia actually look like when we hit a vaccine target of 70 per cent? Joining us now is Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd. Professor, it is nice to see you this morning, thank you so much. We have been told there will be no UK-style freedom day once we do hit those vax targets so what can we expect, how will Australia look once we hit that milestone?
Obviously, the easing of any restrictions will be a decision for the individual states and territories and it will be based on what's happening with the local number of cases where those cases are occurring at the time that we reach those vaccination milestones. What we can expect to see is, as I said, an easing of restrictions but not a total lifting of restrictions. Now of course we have lived through this before. Each time we've been through more prolonged lockdowns, we have seen- as those lockdowns have drawn to a close we have seen restrictions being eased rather than all of a sudden stopping, that sort of freedom day that we saw in the UK which of course had a disastrous consequence with an increased number of cases at that time.
On the experience of other countries, once 45 per cent of the population has received a vaccine jab the take-up rate tends to decline- sorry. We're just over that level, do you reckon we can make to it the 80 per cent?
I'm very confident that we're going to get very high rates of vaccination in Australia. Australia is a country which takes vaccination very seriously. We see this with our childhood immunisation program, over 95 per cent of children are being vaccinated in Australia. You are quite right though, Tristan. Other countries have reached a point where they've started to see hesitancy. I actually had a call with colleagues in Canada last week from the Canadian health department asking about our model of rolling out the vaccine through general practices and wanting to take on that sort of model. They'd previously been using a lot of very large hubs for their vaccination program. They now recognise that having a model like we do where people can get vaccinated by a nurse or a doctor who they already know and trust is actually a way of overcoming some of that hesitancy in some members of the community.
Professor, in Sydney we are seeing at the moment - yesterday at least - over 1000 cases a day. What are you hearing? Will our hospitals actually be able to cope with the load on a national level once we start to see some of those restrictions ease?
This is why it is so important that we continue to all adhere to the restrictions which are in place in the part of the country where we are living, particularly for people in the greater Sydney area at the moment. Cannot afford to have the thousand or so cases a day that we're currently seeing in NSW escalate to 10,000 cases or more a day, which we are seeing in some other countries. Because once you get that level of cases, of course, you have more people who are becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19, more people needing admission to intensive care units and tragically more people dying.
As we get more and more people vaccinated against COVID-19, we protect more people against serious disease and the risk of death from COVID-19. We've already been very successful in vaccinating our aged care resident- aged care facility residents. We now have over 87 per cent of people aged 70 and above in Australia who have been vaccinated so we have been vaccinating progressively many of the people who are most at risk of becoming seriously unwell, and if they were not vaccinated, overwhelming our hospital system.
At the same time, right since the start of the pandemic we have been boosting our capacity of intensive care units and the number of ventilators what we've got, the number of nurses who are trained to work in intensive care. And we also have our network of private hospitals available to support us as well as our public hospitals if needed. So we have a program in place, working very closely with each of the states and territories to ensure that we continue to have enough healthcare provision available for people if and when they need it.
We have been told that October is going to be a shocker. Hopefully, fingers crossed, Christmas looks a little bit more normal. Professor Michael, thank you for your time this morning.
Thank you both.
Thank you. Take care.