South-west Sydney has the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates of any Sydney region and one of the lowest rates across all of metropolitan Australia, new Health Department data shows, as the city struggles with a devastating outbreak and harsh lockdown restrictions.
In its new geographic data report, released Tuesday, the Health Department states just 14.6% of all eligible south-west Sydney residents over 15 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Some 33.1% of residents have received their first dose, the data shows.
Those figures lag behind the rest of the city.
The Northern Beaches, the epicentre of an outbreak over the New Year’s period, has a full vaccination rate of 20.9%.
That tally is even higher in North Sydney and Hornsby at 26.9% — the highest in the state.
Only one other capital city region has a lower vaccination rate: North east Perth, at 14.0%.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the low vaccination figures across south-west Sydney are linked to the age of people in those regions and vaccine eligibility criteria, which has prioritised older Australians.
2016 Census data shows the median age in Canterbury-Bankstown, one of eight local government areas currently subject to strict stay-at-home orders, was 35. The median age across New South Wales was three years older at 38.
Reaching young people in those regions is key to stemming the outbreak, Berejiklian said.
“It’s people aged between 20 and 40 who are very mobile in those communities that have the links between the older generation and younger generation that are acquiring [COVID-19] unfortunately, getting the disease and spreading it,” she said.
“So we have targeted programs across all age groups, but remember, there are still a lot of people in the older demographics that haven’t had any vaccine”.
While south-west Sydney skews younger than the rest of the state, it also harbours a rich variety of cultures and spoken languages.
Community groups say these factors should be taken into account when tailoring vaccine outreach messaging.
In a new statement criticising the deployment of 300 Australian Defence Force personnel to the region for lockdown compliance checks, New South Wales Council of Social Services CEO Joanna Quilty said “punitive compliance” rules are stoking inequality.
“The solutions are communication, income support and vaccinations,” she said.
“There are already so many barriers preventing people from accessing basic information on COVID-19, bringing in the military will only add to these,” said Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis.
“We need multilingual information hotlines, accessible platforms to book vaccinations and a culturally inclusive community-led approach.”
But Berejiklian on Wednesday said those efforts were already well underway, saying “we’re encouraging business and community leaders to join with us in encouraging critical workers, in particular, to get vaccinated”.
The state government has established new mass vaccination hubs at Macquarie Fields in the city’s south-west, and plans to divert some 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from its rural and regional stockpile to vaccinate Year 12 students in those hotspot regions.
New South Wales counted 199 new cases of COVID-19 in the community to 8pm Tuesday. At least 50 were infectious in the community.
Nationwide, 19.23% of the eligible adult population has been fully vaccinated.
Source: Thanks msn.com