/ 13 August 2021

No time to hesitate on COVID vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine

Far out this week has been fast and furious with the spread of the coronavirus in the eastern states (and now territory…) causing havoc. So for a quick look around the grounds:

• The ACT entered lockdown at 5pm yesterday for a week after confirming 4 new local cases. It’s the territory’s first lockdown since the early days of the pandemic, and it caused our federal pollies to sprint from Parliament House to the airport to get home in time as the sitting fortnight wrapped up.

• Victoria added 21 new local cases yesterday. A cluster of mystery cases in Melbourne’s north-west has the state’s COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar “most concerned”. In Queensland, 10 new local cases were recorded – all were connected to the recent Brissie schools cluster and were isolating.

• And then there’s NSW… The Australian Financial Review (paywall) reports that state premiers will “confront” the PM at today’s national cabinet meeting over the state’s spreading outbreak. Yesterday NSW recorded 345 new local cases and 2 deaths. But it’s a town of 2,200 people in the state’s west that received a lot of attention from officials yesterday…

Roger that. There are 6 COVID cases in NSW’s Central West, and long story short, local officials and health workers are worried about the spread of COVID within the Aboriginal community in Walgett, which makes up 30% of the town’s residents. The government reckons about 8% are fully vaccinated despite being in a high priority group – a process that was delayed when jabs were redirected to Sydney last week. And so the federal and state governments are sending vaccines and staff in the hope that they can get things rolling ASAP.

Of course. The government isn’t the boss of you when it comes to getting vaxxed, but in recent months, more Aussies have said they’re up for it. The Melbourne Institute’s fortnightly Vaccine Hesitancy Report showed 35% were unsure or unwilling to get their jabs in mid-May – that’s now at 21.8%. It’s better, but the number is plateauing, and there’s concern about hesitancy stalling at 20% because researchers think about half of those people are unlikely to ever change their minds. The main concerns of those who say they aren’t up for it: questions about effectiveness and lack of trust in the vaccines. “We’ve seen other countries plateau at vaccination rates around the 70% mark, so it is difficult, but we need to ensure people are in receipt of clear, unbiased advice and information on vaccination,” Professor Anthony Scott from the Institute said.

Image source: Dado Ruvic

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