Victorian Government Minister for Health Martin Foley said that “35.6 percent of Victorians aged 18 years and over have now been third dosed, but it is still a long way to go when it comes to the third dose.

“That is 1.88million Victorians with a third dose. Very strong numbers.”

Mr Foley said that third doses are available throughout state sites and that 23,252 people at received their third dose at those state sites on Thursday.

“Many more Victorians continue to get those third doses through GPs and pharmacies.”

The Minister said that “38 percent of children 5 to 11 years old have got their first vaccination.”

“In regard to the paediatric vaccines ages 5 to 11 years old, there are 216,000 kids, 38 percent which have their first vaccination, however there is always more to do.

“Over 12,000 children have booked to receive their first dose through state clinics over the next week, and we have some 82,000 plus appointments.”

The Minister said that it is important that families and carers of the 5 to 11-year-old age group get their children vaccinated, either in a state centre, or GPs and pharmacies.

“The Victorian government has set up fifteen school vaccination pop-ups, plus walk-up vaccinations at Sandown Racecourse, Dandenong Plaza, Caroline Springs Leisure Centre, Campbellfield Ford Factory Complex, St Albans Hospital, Sandringham, Sunshine Western Health and Melton Vaccination Hub.” These hubs are targeted to more vulnerable multicultural communities.

The Minister said that more than “66,000 people have booked in for their third dose over the next week” in the 18-year-old and above group.

Mr Foley urged all those over 18years old to book an appointment to receive their third dose.

“There are 220,000 appointments available.”

And over 2 million rapid antigen tests have gone to state schools with an additional 4.6 million on their way.

Mr Foley urged people to get their boosters, and for parents and carers to vaccinate their children as soon as possible. He said vaccines are the surest way of controlling the pandemic and not getting seriously ill.

The Minister said that public and private health are in partnership and are working to treat those in hospital. He hoped that elective surgeries will be available again once the pressure is off the state’s health system.

Neos Kosmos asked if the Australian Medical Association, and Nurses’ Unions, have made it difficult for overseas doctors and health professionals to have their qualifications recognised over the years, thus impacting on the capacity of our health system. Mr Foley rejected the assertion.

“I don’t support the basis of your assertion that Victoria’s professional health bodies have limited global professionals from coming into the Victorian system.

“From my personal experience I can point out that nurses, doctors, surgeons, allied health professionals are strong supporters of global appropriately qualified professionals coming here.”

The Minister said it was a matter of making “sure that overseas standards are comparable.”

Neos Kosmos asked if the Minister was optimistic and pointed to Cypriot Australian Emergency Physician, Dr Stephanos Herodotou who said, “time has come to talk about the end of the pandemic.”

“I’m always optimistic” Minister Foley said but added he was not ready to pronounce the end of the pandemic because we could not predict “what will be the direction of COVID.

“And if it continued a delivery of the unexpected curveballs is something that all of us have come to learn.”

He hoped that “the worst of the pandemic is behind us” and he praised “the strong community support for such high levels of vaccination”.

“We all want to keep the pressure off our public health system, off our GPs, off our pharmacies, and the most important thing we can do is to keep coming forward and getting vaccinated and following fairly mild public health restrictions.”

Mr Foley was asked how he felt about Greek Australian tennis duo, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios coming into the finals.

He laughed and said, “Just get it done!”