Australians aged under 40 are now eligible to join the coronavirus vaccine rollout and receive the AstraZeneca jab.
National cabinet has agreed on a no-fault indemnity scheme to allow GPs to administer AstraZeneca to all adults, regardless of age.
Outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant have triggered a major change in approach but Pfizer remains the preferred vaccine for under-60s.
Medical clinics have since been inundated with booking requests, with some GPs blindsided by the announcement late on Monday.
Karen Price from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners welcomed the decision.
Dr Price said as long as people understood the low risk of rare blood clots, she would have no hesitation giving a well-informed patient under 40 the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Korshid also welcomed the indemnity cover.
Dr Khorshid said the change would give doctors extra protection and may help speed up the national rollout.
“It removes another barrier, particularly for those GPs that are concerned about providing it to anyone under the age of 60,” he said.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said doctors could work through their own risk-benefit analysis.
“In terms of the indemnity issue, that’s something GPs in particular but others that have been vaccinating as well have had many discussions with us about their concerns in relation to that,” he said.
John Frewen, who heads the national vaccine task force, said adjustments were being made to ensure those aged under 60 who would like the jab could book in.
“This is good news for all Australians that we can now provide access to more vaccines, to more Australians,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.
“We’ve currently got more than 6200 places across the nation where people request access to vaccines.”
National cabinet also agreed to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all aged care and quarantine workers.
Until now, the advice from medical experts has been not to force workers to be vaccinated.
The states and territories will be in charge of the program, with all workers expected to receive their first jabs by September.
Advocates in the sector have been concerned forced vaccinations will lead to a flood of staff leaving, or large gaps in rosters as workers are impacted by vaccine side-effects.
To make this easier, the federal government will provide $11 million to cover paid leave for workers having vaccinations.
Residents of Perth, Sydney and Darwin have been forced into lockdown as authorities attempt to contain new cases of coronavirus.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is expected to follow suit as more cases hit the state.