COVID-19 vaccine booster shots could be rolled out before the end of the year, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said, on a day Australia reached a major milestone.
On Wednesday, the federal health department reported 70.01 per cent of Australians aged over 16 had received two vaccine doses.
The rate was 81 per cent for people aged over 50 and 86.2 per cent for over-70s.
Across the country, full vaccination rates range from 82.8 per cent in the ACT to 57 per cent in Western Australia.
The milestone came as Mr Hunt revealed the expert immunisation panel would meet on Monday to discuss booster shots.
People in nursing homes are expected to start receiving boosters from the second week of November, subject to approval from ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Mr Hunt believes the general population could start receiving third injections later this year.
About 500,000 people with severely compromised immune systems have started receiving third doses.
Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly signalled people who were immunised against coronavirus at the start of the rollout would be the first to receive boosters.
Data from Israel considered by Australian health authorities this week confirmed boosters were safe and effective in all age groups.
People who received AstraZeneca in their initial two-dose course are likely to receive Pfizer or Moderna as their booster.
Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler said health, border and quarantine workers should join the booster program at the same time as aged care.
"Every step of the way, Scott Morrison has been months and months behind the rest of the developed world," he told reporters in Adelaide.
"The Australian people can't afford for him to bungle boosters as well."
Charities and the World Health Organisation have opposed boosters in wealthy countries while poorer nations are still desperate for first rounds of vaccines.
Victoria recorded 1841 new local coronavirus cases and 12 deaths on Wednesday.
Seven people died in NSW where there were 283 more infections.
Australian Associated Press