While the USA today announced that 50% of adults have been fully vaccinated, Australia is languishing, with less than 2% of Australian adults now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In 3 months, Australia has only managed to vaccinate 3.7 million people – a mere 18% – and most of them will need a second jab. The Government won’t tell us how many doses it has but what is clear is that mass vaccination hubs are grossly underutilised, with countless medical staff standing around waiting for people to come.
On Monday the 17th May, the Disability Royal Commission heard that less than 1,000 people with disability in Australia’s residential care facilities have been vaccinated. Yet more than 2000 Australian athletes began receiving their vaccinations on May 10 and are expected to all be vaccinated well before the start of the Olympics on June 24!
With confused messaging and sensationalist media headlines creating panic and vaccine hesitancy, Australia must rethink its vaccination rollout strategy.
The Collaboration on Social Science and Immunisation released a working paper in November 2020, outlining a series of 6 point strategy for COVID-19 vaccination uptake in Australia. One of the first points was to “Ensure that the supply and distribution strategy is equitable, transparent, adaptable, and clearly communicated to relevant professionals and the public”. Clearly this document hasn’t been read by anyone in government!
Here’s what must be done:
- Immediately develop a national vaccine campaign that clearly spells out to all Australians why they should get vaccinated. A national advertising campaign that seeks to not only inform people about why they should get vaccinated, but also the huge risks to themselves and those around them if they don’t would go a long way to increasing vaccination uptake
- Engage local religious and community leaders to support clear communication about the need for vaccination
- Open vaccination to everyone now that those who are higher risk have had the opportunity for some 12 weeks
- Ensure transparency over all vaccine supply and expected availability, including vaccines currently on order
We have been warned again and again that more outbreaks are inevitable. We cannot isolate Australians forever. The only safe way to bring Australians home and to re-open Australia is to have a largely vaccinated population.