Low jab rate in north-west

Registered nurse Lizette De Oliveira, and Madeline Hooke getting vaccinated. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 240969_03

By Michaela Meade

Melbourne’s north-west region has been revealed to have the state’s lowest rate of COVID-19 vaccination, with eligibility and the nature of the workforce being flagged as potential reasons.

The federal government last week released data revealing vaccination rates across the country.

In Melbourne’s north-west, 34.7 per cent of people aged 15 and over had received one dose while 15.6 per cent of people aged 15 and over are fully vaccinated.

Bendigo was revealed to have the highest rate of people aged 15 and over with at least one dose at 52.6 per cent.

Geelong had the highest rate of people aged 15 and over fully vaccinated, at 25.9 per cent.

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network chief executive Chris Carter said there were a number of reasons for the low vaccine rate in Melbourne’s north-west.

“We have a younger population and a lot of people may not be eligible,” he said.

“The nature of the workforce essentially is essential service workers with jobs that involve long hours and getting time off work is really difficult.”

Altona North GP and Australian Medical Association state council chairman Mukesh Haikerwal said supply was one reason for the lag.

“We need more supply and we need more participation and we need more messaging so that people are actually prepared and geared up to do the vaccine and also prepared to take the vaccine,” he said.

Dr Haikerwal said there weren’t enough vaccination sites in the north-west.

“I think the issue is this: Wyndham’s the size of Canberra but hardly got any vaccination sites and people there have got very few doses.

“It’s a common problem across the north-west.”

Federal Lalor MP Joanne Ryan said the average age of the Wyndham community is 32 years.

“Sixty-four per cent of our community is below the age of 40 [years] and not eligible to be vaccinated yet,” Ms Ryan said.

“Instead of trying to blame lower socio-economic families or multicultural communities for vaccination hesitancy, [people] need to look at the… vaccination roll out… 113,000 people I represent aren’t able to get their hands on the vaccine.”