THE City of Whittlesea will host a free online community vaccine information session at 6.30pm tonight with a health expert to answer residents’ questions about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, safety and importance.

Northern Health’s head of infectious diseases, associate professor Craig Aboltins, will host the session, facilitated by council chief executive Craig Lloyd, and will share facts about the vaccines and how they work. He will answer all questions to help residents better understand how vaccines protect themselves and their community.

The session comes in response to the municipality’s alarmingly low COVID-19 vaccine uptake, despite its high case numbers.

On Monday 67 new cases were announced in the City of Whittlesea, but it remains the third-least vaccinated local government area in Victoria.

According to the latest data from yesterday, September 20, 63.5 per cent of the eligible Whittlesea population had received a first dose and 34.7 per cent had been fully vaccinated.

As of yesterday the state had reached 72 per cent first dose and 43.9 per cent second dose.

This week’s figures showed a promising 7.3 per cent increase on first dose uptake, but chair administrator Lydia Wilson said the numbers were still too low given the rapidly worsening outbreak in the area.

“Increasing vaccination rates in the City of Whittlesea will help us combat the spread of coronavirus in our local community so we want to support our community in any way we can to help them get vaccinated,” she said.

“This session will provide the opportunity for people to have their questions answered by a medical expert so they can make an informed decision about vaccination to protect themselves and their local community.”

Last week, postcodes in the City of Whittlesea were listed as priority areas that would be targeted by new pop-up vaccines clinics, including at Hazel Glen College in Doreen.

Opening hours were also extended and more appointments added at the Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre state vaccine hub in South Morang.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced Victoria’s roadmap out of lockdowns on Sunday, which showed an easing of restrictions at each vaccination milestone.

When the state reaches 80 per cent single dose coverage, expected by Sunday, more outdoor recreation, including golf, basketball, tennis and lawn bowls, will be permitted in metropolitan Melbourne in the same group numbers as are currently permitted for picnics: five fully vaccinated adults, or two regardless of vaccination status.

Once Victoria reaches 70 per cent double dose, expected around October 26, Melbourne’s lockdown will end, but a 25km travel radius will remain.

Fully vaccinated people will be able to gather outdoors in groups of 10, or five regardless of status, and only fully vaccinated people will be permitted into hospitality venues, hairdressers and personal care settings, places of worship, outdoor funerals and weddings, outdoor community sport and entertainment venues.

Restrictions will ease further when the state reaches 80 per cent double dose, which is expected around November 5, but unvaccinated people will remain restricted from many public settings.

To book in for tonight’s information session, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/vax-chat-live-qa-vaccination-information-session-tickets-173178289927. To book a vaccine appointment, visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine, or call your local GP or pharmacy.

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