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  • Victoria will have tougher vaccine exemption rules

    Author: AAP

Victorian authorities will make it tougher to get a vaccine exemption in an attempt to crack down on anti-vaxxers who are shopping around GP clinics.

Victoria will tighten rules for medical exemptions to COVID-19 vaccinations in a crackdown on people doctor shopping and pressuring GPs for exemptions.

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The state recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic's third wave on Thursday, after 25 Victorians died with COVID-19 and another 1923 new local infections were reported.

With one day until restrictions further ease across the state, 77.5 per cent of over-16s are now fully vaccinated and 92.1 per cent have had a first dose.

From Friday, it will become harder for people to avoid getting a COVID-19 vaccine, as the chief health officer tightens medical exemption requirements.

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Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie said GPs had complained of receiving "significant pressure" from people who do not want to get vaccinated, and doctors needed clarity on issues around medical exemptions.

"A very small number of people are unable to get a COVID-19 vaccination because they have a condition," he told reporters.

"Victorian GPs are tasked with determining these exemptions when visited by their patients, but we have heard feedback from some of our GP colleagues that there have been some problems with this process.

"There have been reports of people going from general practice to general practice, trying to get different outcomes."

Victorians will need to fill out an exemption form with the Australian Immunisation Register to obtain an exemption certificate via the myGov website, from 6pm on Friday.

The certificate can be used as proof they are medically exempt from being vaccinated.

Additionally, clinicians will be given a guidance form that clearly sets out the Australian Technical Advisory Group's list of permitted medical exemptions.

People with a current exemption letter that is not the AIR form will need to return to their doctor so a form can be submitted on their behalf before November 12.

Despite recording a jump of 389 daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday, Prof Cowie said Victoria's case numbers are beginning to stabilise.

He said virus modelling showed there could be a "slight reduction" in case numbers before another rise in December and January.

"Exactly how that plays out, to what degree it just becomes a relative plateau and then how high that subsequent peak is, is subject to all of us and our vaccination levels," he said.

"The more people get vaccinated, the lower that next peak will be."

It comes as authorities warn there is a high risk of thunderstorm asthma in the state's southwest, Wimmera and Mallee districts on Thursday, while Melbourne may be moderately affected.

The combination of high grass pollen levels, severe thunderstorms and strong winds means a "large number of people" may develop asthma symptoms quickly, the health department said.

Prof Cowie urged Victorians with asthma to be careful and follow their health plans, as he said there was already pressure on the health system due to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, people in metropolitan Melbourne will be allowed to travel to the regions and interstate when restrictions ease at 6pm on Friday.

Among other rule changes, masks will not be required outdoors, non-essential retail stores will reopen and greater numbers of people will be allowed inside hospitality venues.


Photo Credit: Canva

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