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(Australian Associated Press)
Doctors have thrown their support behind linking vaccine certificates to greater freedoms in a bid to drive up jab rates.
People with two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca now have digital access to immunisation proof through their Medicare account.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said offering different quarantine arrangements or domestic and international travel rights could help counter vaccine hesitancy.
“The AMA is certainly supportive, and I am supportive, of there being a tangible benefit for Australians who’ve been vaccinated,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
But Dr Khorshid said freedom incentives should not be provided until people had equal access to vaccines.
“Those are things that should be considered by our government as we go forward in this pandemic and as more and more of our population is vaccinated,” he said.
Proof of immunisation is seen as vital to relaxing restrictions long term, with some businesses and political leaders floating it as an incentive to receive jabs.
Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds said the new record would make it simple for people to show their vaccination status.
“The COVID-19 digital certificate makes proof of vaccination accessible anytime, anywhere,” she said.
The certificate, which is similar to a digital drivers’ licence, has a coat of arms hologram and includes the person’s name, date of birth and a green tick of validity.
It can be accessed through the Medicare app or online through myGov.
No one will be required to share information about non-COVID vaccinations or other health data.
Dr Khorshid also warned major reform of Australia’s healthcare system would be needed to coincide with international travel restarting.
He said hospitals were already “bursting at the seams”, with ambulance ramping prevalent around the country.
“We’re are sitting ducks for not just COVID but for the flu after the borders open,” he said.
Vaccination numbers continue to rise with more than 5.3 million doses administered but only around three per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated with two shots.
Victoria recorded just one new infection on Wednesday, with the state government confirming hard lockdown would end from 11.59pm on Thursday.
But a return to a relatively normal life is set to be delayed with a 25-kilometre travel limit and restrictions on gatherings to remain in place.
Dr Khorshid said Victoria had taken the right precautionary measures during Melbourne’s two-week lockdown to stop the spread of new variants.
“If you don’t like lockdowns – go and get vaccinated,” he said.
“If you don’t like border closures – go and get vaccinated. If you want to travel internationally – go and get vaccinated.”