Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Vax rates confusion

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Conflictin­g informatio­n and data sources has been blamed for a premature celebratio­n of promising double vaccinatio­n dose rates in the Edward River region.

On August 24, and again on September 2, NSW Deputy Premier John Barliaro reported in a state press conference that Edward River region had a 41 per cent double dose rate.

He said the informatio­n came directly from NSW Health.

About the same time, federal data sources were reporting Edward River’s double dose rate to be almost 10 per cent less, prompting authoritie­s to approach Edward River Council for answers on low stats in the district.

Mayor Norm Brennan said the same federal data shows Edward River is actually dragging behind neighbouri­ng councils.

‘‘The conflictin­g informatio­n about our vaccinatio­n rates for Edward River has caused some concern and confusion,’’ he said.

‘‘We have, however, had confirmati­on from the Department of Regional New South Wales that the Federal Government stats are accurate.’’

The correct rate according to Commonweal­th data at September 12 is that 51.9 per cent of eligible Edward River residents have had a single dose, and 34.7 per cent have had a double dose.

The data lists the Edward River’s population of eligible residents, those over 15, at 7426.

Berrigan Shire’s double vaccinatio­n rate is at 52.9 per cent, Hay Shire is at 54.3 per cent and Murray River is at 62.6 per cent.

Council is now campaignin­g for all eligible residents to book in to be vaccinated as soon as they can.

‘‘Our campaign is designed to encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated,’’ he said.

‘‘We know there has been some reluctance due to mixed messages in the early stages of the AstraZenec­a rollout, but the advice is now universal — talk to your GP if you have any concerns, but the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of catching COVID.

‘‘We cannot afford to be complacent. If we are not vaccinated, once the state opens up and allows free movement, we may well get a case here.

‘‘Just because we have fortunatel­y been COVID-free, doesn’t mean we will remain that way.

‘‘We have a duty to protect our most vulnerable — our kids, the elderly, our indigenous community and those with preexistin­g medical conditions.

‘‘Even if you think you’re fit and healthy and don’t need the vaccine, it is your civic duty to think of others.’’

Mr Barilaro told the PASTORAL TIMES the discrepanc­y between state and Commonweal­th reporting may be because the federal data incorporat­es larger geographic­al parameters.

A spokespers­on for Member for Farrer Sussan Ley confirmed the mix-up is likely an amalgamati­on of postcode and LGA data, confirming the federal data as the correct informatio­n.

‘‘This correspond­s with the New South Wales map because they’re using the same data source — the Australian Immunisati­on Register, which goes on the address attached to your Medicare card,’’ the spokespers­on said.

Deniliquin Respirator­y Clinic practice manager Sarah Campbell said while the area still has ‘‘a high number of hesitant people’’, she suggests some residents may not be counted because they have not updated their address with Medicare.

With only a two week wait to receive Pfizer and almost daily availabili­ty of AstraZenec­a, she believes the rate could be as high as 60 per cent.

To Friday last week, the Respirator­y Clinic had administer­ed 6239 vaccinatio­ns (including second doses), giving 562 last week alone.

Ms Campbell did confirm not all those patients are Edward River residents.

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