NT News

Low jab rates revealed

- LEE ROBINSON

WOEFULLY low vaccinatio­n rates have been revealed in some remote Aboriginal communitie­s after leaked government data detailed the Northern Territory’s tottering vaccinatio­n rollout outside of urban areas.

According to the data obtained by The Australian from late August, in some areas as few as six per cent of residents had been vaccinated with one dose.

In the remote Central Australian community of Apatula, also known as Finke, just 10 people received their first jab out of a population of 162, and seven residents had come forward to receive both doses.

In Yuendemu, 300km northwest of Alice Springs with a population 660, 18 per cent had received one dose of the vaccine, while only 8 per cent – or 50 people – had been received two jabs.

Some smaller communitie­s fared worse, with Wallace Rockhole recording a double dose vaccinatio­n rate of five per cent and Yuelamu, with a population 149, had a two per cent double vaccinatio­n rate for eligible residents.

Ali Curung and Papunya posted double vaccinatio­n rates of eight per cent and nine per cent respective­ly.

The NT government and CLP opposition continue to squabble over how best to measure the Territory’s rollout progress, with Chief Minister Michael Gunner chastising newly released Commonweal­th vaccinatio­n figures.

Palmerston GP Superclini­c chief executive Robyn Cahill said she was not surprised by the low rollout figures for the Territory outback. “The rollout to remote communitie­s has been problemati­c for lots and lots of reasons,” she said.

“The main challenges have been co-ordination and getting vaccines out there, and part of that – in the beginning – was because of the ever changing landscape of how long Pfizer could be kept defrosted.”

Ms Cahill said the transience of residents in remote communitie­s added to the issue because of the need to wait several weeks between receiving first and second doses.

The lagging vaccinatio­n rates spurred calls for greater transparen­cy over vaccinatio­n data and whether the 70-80 per cent double vaccinatio­n target will be enough for the Territory to lift border restrictio­ns and end lockdowns.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles told ABC Darwin the government was “pivoting communicat­ions” to help reduce vaccine hesitancy.

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