Victoria Covid: the most vulnerable, the least protected

Geelong and the southwest of the state reported vaccination rates of around 50%, while the inner south of Melbourne, which stretches from Brighton to Chelsea, had the highest vaccination rate in the city , at 49%.

Four new cases of the coronavirus were recorded in Victoria on Tuesday, but all were in isolation throughout their infectious period, including a colleague of the traffic controller at the Moonee Ponds testing center who tested positive last week.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the government would review the restrictions within a week, in line with the two-week deadline stated when Victoria left the lockdown a week ago, and he warned that the Delta’s epidemic in Victoria is said to have a “long tail”, putting pressure on any decision on home visits, currently banned in most circumstances.

“There could be another week or more of a trickle of cases,” he said. “And we need to make sure that we can eliminate those 3,000 remaining primary close contacts and make sure no one has been in the community for a potentially infectious time that could reignite all of this.”

There were 199 new infections in New South Wales and 16 in the growing Queensland cluster. A suspected case has been detected in Cairns, the first sign of spreading far beyond Brisbane where the outbreak began last week. The Queensland lockdown is due to end on Sunday.

Operation COVID Shield data on regional vaccination rates as of August 1 has been released after persistent requests from the media and others for a much more detailed geographic distribution of vaccination rates.

People wait to be vaccinated at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. Credit:Getty

In Victoria, many areas with the highest vaccination rates also have an older population, suggesting that lower uptake may at least be due in part to the fact that there are more young people, who are still mostly ineligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

Bendigo has a median age of 41 and Geelong 39.8, while the median age in West Melbourne is 33.7 and the North West is 35.4.

Southwest Sydney, which also has a young population and is the epicenter of the NSW outbreak, has one of the lowest rates of fully vaccinated people in the state, at just over 33% who have received at least one dose of vaccine.

UNSW data visualization specialist Dr Ori Gudes said the areas of Melbourne and Sydney that had been hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreaks had one key element in common – the inability of people to work from home.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Professor Sutton said that while the younger population in some areas might be a factor in lowering vaccination rates, he believes the disparity is mainly due to social disadvantage, the same problem that has resulted in higher rates of vaccination. COVID-19 in these regions.

“So Hispanic populations in the United States, black American populations in the United States, even though they had a higher burden of COVID-19, also tend to have lower vaccine uptake,” said the Professor Sutton.

“It should just be a lesson for all of us in Australia,” he said, adding that the Victorian authorities had put in place an intensive engagement program for multicultural communities that had enabled them to reach over 17 000 community leaders and members to date.

Asked about the merits of Labor’s plan to donate $ 300 to every Australian vaccinated by December, Professor Sutton lent his support, saying the incentives could play a role in addition to fighting disinformation and improving access to vaccines.

“Whether it’s lotteries, cash incentives, or a ticket to something else as a reward, I think all of those things play a role. “

Suman Majumdar, an infectious disease expert at the Burnet Institute, said the global experience suggested that vaccination incentives were useful alongside other measures and helped tackle inequalities.

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He said a good example was Australia’s tuberculosis screening program in the 1950s.

“When an x-ray screening van came to your home or area, you were paid to do an x-ray and that was a problem for the whole population. [program in] Australia which has been very successful, ”said Dr Majumdar.

Professor Julie Leask, a vaccination expert at the University of Sydney, said some of the less vaccinated areas have revealed how confusing reservation systems and shifting recommendations affect culturally diverse and disadvantaged communities. Practical issues such as internet access were also an issue, she said.

“Knowing where, when and how to get an appointment and even someone’s gender can determine if you are vaccinated. If you are housebound and don’t speak English, it will be more difficult to get a reservation, ”she said.

“Communities facing disadvantage, poverty, social exclusion and who speak languages ​​other than English will find it more difficult to connect to traditional health services. And lower coverage is more common among people born abroad.

“It’s not just what’s going on in people’s heads that keeps them from getting vaccinated, there are practical factors. It’s not just personal motivation, but access and convenience are essential.

With Nigel Gladstone

About John McTaggart

John McTaggart

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