Australia’s coronavirus vaccination rollout will be expanded to all children aged 12 to 15 as daily case records continue to be smashed.
Cabinet’s national security committee is poring over plans to include a new age group ahead of final approval from the expert immunisation panel on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to making all 12 to 15 year olds eligible for vaccination.
“We have some interim advice, which is very favourable on that score, but we expect the final advice very soon to be consistent with that,” Mr Morrison said.
“That enables us to move forward with the plans that are being prepared now for some weeks.”
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is expected to brief a national cabinet meeting of federal, state and territory leaders on Friday.
Soaring cases in NSW will also be on the agenda with another 1029 infections pushing Australia past 1100 in one day for the first time during the pandemic.
Three more deaths took the national toll to 989.
The prime minister said the fatality rate in the NSW wave was lower than last year’s Victorian outbreak because vaccines were available including in aged care.
“The vaccines are doing their job,” he said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese criticised Mr Morrison for praising NSW’s decision to resist a hard lockdown at the onset of the Delta strain outbreak.
“With more than 1000 cases today, why won’t the prime minister accept responsibility for the consequences of his actions?” Mr Albanese told parliament.
Modelling by the University of Sydney estimates that by early October daily cases will peak between 1500 and 6000 across Australia under current restriction levels.
In Victoria, there were 80 new cases while the ACT reported 14.
Expanding the vaccine rollout to children will open up jabs to a further 1.2 million people.
About 220,000 children in that cohort with compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions or who are Indigenous are already eligible for the Pfizer jab.
No country has approved coronavirus vaccines for children under 12.
A national cabinet showdown is looming on the national plan to reopen gradually when vaccination coverage hits 70 and 80 per cent of Australians 16 and above.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said including children aged 12 to 15 in the thresholds needed serious consideration, while the ACT has already added the group to its immunisation figures.
Mr Morrison said the Doherty Institute – which prepared the modelling underpinning the plan – had not recommended basing targets on all people over 12.
“But that does not by implication say there is no need to vaccinate children 12 to 15.”
Australia has fully vaccinated 32.3 per cent of people aged older than 15, while more than 55 per cent have received one jab.
There was a record 335,420 doses administered nationwide in the past 24 hours.