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Australia Australian towns dragging nation down in race for 80% vaccination

05:05  06 september  2021
05:05  06 september  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Australia 's race to accelerate the vaccination rate and then do away with lockdowns faces twin threats: patchy rates of jab uptake and the danger of ' vaccine apathy' setting in. While NSW this week reached the milestone of having 70 per cent of eligible recipients having received at least a first dose, other People queue inside the Royal Exhibition Building Covid-19 Vaccination Hub in Melbourne. Australians will be subject only to 'baseline restrictions' once 80 per cent of the population are 'double dose' vaccinated . Australia 's plans to exit lockdowns are staged, with some freedoms restored when

Australia is racing to vaccinate its population ahead of a huge shift in its pandemic strategy. Australia has changed its Covid strategy: it's time to leave lockdowns and "come out of the cave", Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said. With vaccinations accelerating, he says Australians will soon "live with the virus" for the first time - that is, not try to eliminate it. It's a drastic shift for a country used to seeing very few infections.

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Australia's race to accelerate the vaccination rate and then do away with lockdowns  faces twin threats: patchy rates of jab uptake and the danger of 'vaccine apathy' setting in.

While NSW this week reached the milestone of having 70 per cent of eligible recipients having received at least a first dose, other parts of Australia are lagging well behind that rate, leaving them vulnerable to new Covid outbreaks and pushing back the date when lockdowns can end.

In Logan, south of Brisbane, an LGA with more than 257,000 residents, only 39.4 per cent have received a first dose and just 23.1 per cent had received two doses of a vaccine by August 27.

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Vaccine passport program to be trialled in regional towns at pubs and events. Victoria is set to lift a range of restrictions sooner than expected with the state ahead of schedule to reach its 70 per cent vaccination target. Premier Daniel Andrews promised he would begin to rollback minor restrictions when the state was expected to hit the massive milestone on September 23.

Eighty per cent of Australians will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before lockdowns can end and borders can begin to reopen, one of the nation ’s most respected think tanks says. A firmer idea is emerging regarding the percentage of Australians which need to be vaccinated in order to end lockdowns. The Grattan Institute believes there needs to be a vaccination rate of 80 per cent of all Australians , including children.

Ipswich west of Brisbane - with about 170,000 residents - isn't much better. There, 43 per cent have received a first dose of a vaccine by August 27, and only 26.7 per cent were fully vaccinated.

It's not just Queensland; the LGA of Rockingham, south of Perth, has only 27.6 per cent of its 105,754 eligible residents 15 and over fully vaccinated.

Other LGAs in parts of Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland have similar numbers that are well behind the national figures and leave Australia with the growing likelihood of another Christmas when border closures leave us isolated from friends and family.

These include Greater Dandenong in Melbourne's east, Brimbank and Hume to the west and north-west of the city, Swan and Waneroo to the east and north of Perth, and Byron Bay on the far north coast of NSW.

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Alaska's Native villages have 80 % vaccination rates and state will offer shots to TOURISTS starting June 1 as daily COVID cases fall below 100. More than 80 % of residents 16 or older in isolated areas like St Lawrence Island and others along the Bering Sea have had at least one dose of Covid Native communities have taken the devastation as motivation for a rapid fire vaccination campaign. Coupled with strategies like vaccinating people at their grocery stores or homes, hard to reach tribes are now reaching herd immunity. Encouragement to get vaccinated is coming from Alaska health officials.

Annastacia Palaszczuk urges Queenslanders to use the time when case numbers are low to get vaccinated to prevent a situation like NSW.

The numbers contrast with Australia's national total of 60.7 per cent of those over 16 who have received a first dose and 36.9 per cent who are now fully vaccinated, as of Friday.

Australia's plans to exit lockdowns are staged, with some freedoms restored when 70 per cent are fully vaccinated, and just about all restrictions ended if and when we reach 80 percent.

But those are national figures, meaning even the most advanced areas and states in terms of vaccination rates are effectively hostage to those who are lagging far behind.

Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett said ‘patchy’ vaccination rates in different parts of Australia, particularly in rural and regional areas where the perceived threat of the virus is not as great, may mean some towns  still risk new lockdowns in the event of a fresh outbreak.

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How does Australia ’s coronavirus vaccine rollout and schedule compare with other countries, when will Australia be fully vaccinated and when will you be eligible to get your dose? We bring together the latest numbers on daily new Covid-19 cases, as well as stats and live data on total vaccination The federal government has also set vaccination targets of 70% and 80 % of the population aged 16 and over as the thresholds for phase B and phase C of its ‘ National Plan to transition Australia ’s National COVID-19 Response’ – essentially when it expects restrictions to ease, with reduced lockdowns and

The state has now administered six million Covid vaccine doses. Victoria recorded 50 new Covid cases, with anyone over the age of 16 eligible to book a Covid vaccine appointment from Wednesday, including Pfizer. The Australian Capital Territory recorded 30 new Covid cases in its outbreak. In addition, 40 NDIS participants – among Australia ’s most vulnerable people, who were meant to be prioritised for vaccination earlier this year – also have Covid right now. These numbers, however, underestimate the true figure of both people with disability and their carers who have contracted Covid

‘It won’t hold us back at a national level, and it might not even hold us back at state level, to then go to the next point,' she said, in reference to the thresholds set by the national plan to re-open the country.

‘But then we have the issue of managing risk for those communities, you will have to potentially lock down a town, if there’s enough people unvaccinated and if that’s the only way you can try and protect those people who either can’t or won’t get vaccinated.’

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Infectious diseases expert Associate Professor Paul Griffin from the University of Queensland and Brisbane's Mater Hospital said 'perception of risk' was a key factor in the speed at which any community would embrace vaccination.

That is why Victoria and New South Wales have seen significant upticks in vaccination rates as outbreaks spread, while Queensland and WA - where there are relatively few cases - are behind.

'Those areas that have active transmission are increasing their rate of vaccination,' he said.

'The counter to that are areas where they don't have a lot of transmission at the moment - so people are not appropriately assessing the risk, thinking they're protected by the strategy in place.'

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He warns that places which are lagging in getting residents vaccinated are unprepared for the spread of Delta or potential other variants.

'In those areas that have good control, we need to get those vaccination rates up for when the virus does come… and it's a matter of time, it's not going to be kept out forever.'

Who is behind the curve?

A selection of LGAs with lagging vaccination rates (as of August 27):

Queensland

South Burnett (population 26,417) - 46.2% first dose, 22.0% double dose

Logan (population 257, 354) - 39.4% first dose, 23.1% double dose

Lockyer Valley (population 33,721) - 39.6% first dose, 20.9% double dose

Ipswich (population 169,205) - 43.0% first dose, 26.7% double dose

NSW

Byron (population 29,052) - 47.2% first dose,  25.5% double dose

Western Australia

Swan (population 114,972) - 40.7% first dose, 24.6% double dose

Wanneroo (population 161,346) - 44.0% first dose, 27.2% double dose

Kwinana (population 34,833) - 40.2% first dose, 24.9% double dose

Gosnells (population 97,821) - 42.6% first dose, 24.8% double dose

Rockingham (population 105,754) - 44.1% first dose,  27.6% double dose

Victoria

Whittlesea (population 180,925) - 43.2% first dose, 25.6% double dose

Hume (population 180,782) - 40.8% first dose, 22.4% double dose

Greater Dandenong (population 138,053) - 43.2% first dose, 24.1% double dose

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Casey (population 273,232) - 47.7% first dose, 27.8% double dose

Brimbank (population 171,362) - 45.4% first dose, 25.1%

Source: health.gov.au

Professor Bennett believes the recognition in Sydney and Melbourne that the 'Covid zero' elimination strategy is impossible due to the high level of contagiousness of  the Delta variant means the public will realise they can't just wait for the virus to pass but must instead take precautions.


Video: Long lockdowns 'unlikely' at 80 per cent vaccinated (Sky News Australia)

'Other states will realise that Melbourne and Sydney definitely can't keep [the virus] under control and it's no longer a matter of keeping your borders closed until it's sorted.

'People will realise it's not a choice of being vaccinated or not anymore, in the absence of the virus. It's now, you're going to be facing the virus… and that shifts the choice people make.'

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The federal government has set national vaccination targets of 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the population aged 16 and over as the thresholds for phase B and phase C of the four-phase plan agreed to by the national cabinet at the end of July.

Australians will be subject only to 'baseline restrictions' once 80 per cent of the population are 'double dose' vaccinated.

These include only highly targeted lockdowns, the lifting of caps on Australians returning home and travelling overseas, if vaccinated, and the gradual reopening of inward and outward international travel.

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While governments both federal and state have presented the 80 per cent threshold as being reachable soon after the 70 per cent mark was supposedly achieved next month, international experience casts doubt upon that.

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In most countries, demand for vaccination was strong through the 50 and 60 per cent marks but soon plateaued as the supply of eager recipients ran out and all that was left were the sceptical and apathetic.

In the US, after an initial burst of inoculations in the wake of the country passing 500,000 deaths from the virus, the vaccination rate began to level off with 30-40 per cent of the population having received one dose.

In early August, America's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported the country was administering just 660,000 vaccinations per day, down from a peak of more than three million daily shots in mid-April.

A similar phenomenon occurred in Germany but at a stage when closer to 70 per cent of the population had received one vaccine dose.

In other countries such as Canada, where 82.72 per cent of the population aged 12 or over has received a first dose, vaccination rates rose at a constant pace past the 70 per cent threshold, without any plateau.

France and Israel experienced a similar trajectory.

Experts such as Griffin and Bennett believe the 'carrot' of extra freedoms and a return to normal will see Australians replicate the Canadian experience, more so than the American one. But there's no guarantee.

'Absolutely it's a risk,' Professor Griffin said.

'We need to instil into people that we need to get as many vaccinated as possible and that shouldn't stop at 70 or 80 per cent.

'There's no magic number where we should say, that's enough, slow down.

'We need to keep communicating the benefits of vaccination and getting that rate higher, as well as an understanding of the risk of this virus - the fact it's going to keep coming.'

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Professor Bennett, who has tracked Australian vaccine uptake since early July, said rates did begin to taper in the 50-plus age groups due to factors such as the changing advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine but that the recent outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne had caused rates to lift once again.

'I do think first dose is a good predictor of second,' she said. 'We'll know at the other end whether there's a few who don't quite follow up with their second dose.'

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Nevertheless the federal government is sending a letter to 586,713 people aged between 60 and 69 who have yet to receive a first dose of the vaccine, with many believed to be waiting for new doses of Pfizer in preference to AstraZeneca.

Both experts agree the factors at work in causing the current upward tick in the rate of vaccination to potentially flatten out are various, from cultural to ethical objections and more.

'As you get those rates up and we open up, the motivation tends to dwindle,' Professor Griffin explains. 'There's not so much of a carrot at the end of the process. It's harder to find people who are willing and want the vaccine once you get to that higher rate.

'It's not something that should come as a surprise when we get to those points so our strategy needs to be prepared for that.

'We need to make our communication clear and consistent about the ongoing importance of vaccination until – we won't get to 100 per cent - but as close to that as possible.'

Understanding that the Delta variant doubles the number of people in hospitals across all age groups is likely to be a powerful motivation to keep vaccination rates high, Professor Bennett said.

'As more of the older age groups are covered, more of the people in hospital will be younger… and we're getting bigger cases than we've ever had in Australia.

'It will keep going for a bit and as the proportion of those people in hospital who are young gets higher and higher, it will sadly be those numbers that drive the [get vaccinated] message home.'

Many hope Australia's rate of child immunisation, one of the highest in the world at around 95 per cent, is a figure that can be replicated for Covid vaccination of the adult population.

'I would hope we can,' Professor Bennett said.

'If it's the thing that can help translate from the hard-earned Covid zero, again and again and again, to higher vaccination rates without ever having to suffer the worst of the big waves, and what we have now by world standards is nothing…

'If we can do that, then I think we go back to being the envy of the world.'

AUSTRALIA'S VACCINATION RATES BY AGE GROUP

As of September 1, 2021, first dose and double dose numbers and percentages:

16-19 – 287,146 (24.0%); 66,920 (5.6%)

20-24 – 594,929 (34.7%); 221,679 (12.9%)

25-29 – 737,072 (38.7%); 305,680 (16.0%)

30-34 – 844,175 (43.9%); 360,824 (18.8%)

35-39 – 905,733 (49.4%); 402,733 (21.9%)

40-44 – 1,044,347 (64.5%); 689,056 (42.5%)

45-49 – 1,082,034 (64.5%); 745,667 (44.5%)

50-54 – 1,125,092 (71.9%); 762,055 (48.7%)

55-59 – 1,129,467 (72.6%); 782,843 (50.3%)

60-64 – 1,118,799 (77.9%); 645,025 (44.9%)

65-69 – 1,025,825 (81.5%); 631,854 (50.2%)

70-74 – 960,099 (86.9%); 689,006 (62.4%)

75-79 – 696,324 (90.0%); 517,430 (66.9%)

80-84 – 468,683 (88.7%); 348,029 (65.9%)

85-89 – 277,291 (87.7%); 204,469 (64.7%)

90-94 – 139,592 (88.1%); 105,268 (66.4%)

95+ – 43,805 (82.8%); 34,016 (64.3%)

Source: health.gov.au

Read more

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