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National cabinet meets to discuss vaccine

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The meeting of the national cabinet will aim to get the nation's vaccine program back on track and discuss ways to ease international border restrictions, perhaps later in the year.

One route in and out of the country has already eased, after restrictions on two-way travel between Australia and New Zealand were loosened on Sunday night.

"It is another significant milestone for Australians," federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"That is the first step of a progressive opening ... guided by safety, and in partnership with the states and territories and the Australian people."

The national cabinet will meet on Monday for the first of what will be twice-weekly gatherings following the vaccine rollout being thrown into disarray.

Included in discussions will be changes to Australia's vaccination policy, including state vaccination implementation plans, in the wake of new advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine and additional supplies of Pfizer doses.

Just over a week ago health authorities recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to those over the age of 50 after blood-clotting was linked to younger people.

A woman who died from blood-clotting last week was the third case linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia. The first two cases are still in hospital.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia is now approaching 1.5 million vaccinations after some 330,000 jabs were completed in the past week.

He said GPs continue to be the cornerstone of the program but going forward, with very strong support from governments around the country, national cabinet will consider ways the states can assist with larger vaccination clinics.

From Wednesday, Victorians aged over 70 will be able to show up to a vaccine centre and get jabbed without an appointment as the state prepares to scale up its rollout.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that three family members diagnosed with COVID-19 in NSW hotel quarantine picked up the virus from fellow returned travellers.

Health authorities believe the three picked up the virus from a family of four who stayed in the adjoining room of the Adina Apartment Hotel at Sydney's Town Hall.

"This latest story again just reinforces the need for a speedy and effective rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines," Labor's health spokesman Mark Butler told reporters in Adelaide.

"But still Australia is not even in the top 100 nations of the world per head of population in vaccinations. We need to do better."

© AAP 2021

Tags: coronavirus