Australians are eligible for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine early after the national immune system recommends a shorter time frame.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Friday that booster shots will be carried over from the current 5 months to 4 months after the second dose from January 4th.
After that, those who took two doses from January 31st will be able to get a booster after 3 months.
States and territories are slowly reintroducing restrictions and updating methods for tracking and isolating positive cases as infections surge across the country.
Forced masking is now being practiced in almost all states and territories after New South Wales Prime Minister Dominic Perrott reverted to his anti-mission position on Thursday.
NSW will also reintroduce the QR code in all settings from December 27, when the hospitality facility will return to one person per 2 square meter rule.
This was after the state set a new record of 5,715 infections per day on Thursday, nearly 2,000 more than the previous day. That number dropped to just 5,612 on Friday.
Victoria also reintroduced Maskman Date before the state reported 2,095 incidents on Friday.
Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan followed the lead of the two largest states on Thursday after backpackers tested positive after infecting the community for several days.
Large, high-risk public events in Washington have been cancelled and dance is banned except for weddings.
“I know this isn’t the news we wanted to hear two days before Christmas, but unfortunately this is the reality of COVID-19,” McGowan said.
Queensland reported 369 new daily infections on Thursday, 484 in South Australia, 26 in Tasmania, and 10 in the Northern Territory.
ACT also urged to record new daily case records with 85 new infections and update the definition of community-based close contact.
There are also growing calls for the federal government to make rapid antigen testing available free of charge amid concerns about a surge in cases during Christmas holidays.
The New South Wales government plans to allow residents to perform rapid antigen testing free of charge to reduce congestion at overwhelming PCR testing sites.
Due to the long queues at testing clinics across the country this week, states like Queensland were required to rethink their immigration requirements, which require a negative PCR test before arrival.
Queensland travels to enable rapid antigen testing prior to travel. But not before the New Year.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese wants the federal government to do more at the forefront of rapid inspection.
“I don’t think anyone should be excluded from having a rapid antigen test for income,” he said.
The federal government has implemented free rapid testing at residential geriatric care facilities, but has resisted calls from doctors to make testing universally free.