Stuck in the slow lane
As wet season nears, our remote vax race is …
VULNERABLE Indigenous communities in Central Australia supposed to receive priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine have fallen well behind the Territory's average.
The NT government has blamed rampant vaccine hesitancy in individual communities for the alarming statistics, with some areas only achieving double vaccination rates of 5 per cent.
Only 61 per cent of residents in communities managed by NT Health had
received even their first dose as of October 5, well behind the NT average of 68 per cent.
Meanwhile, 90 per cent of NSW residents have had at least one dose.
Only 46 per cent of residents in remote communities were fully vaccinated, compared with 55 per cent across the Territory, according to Medicare data.
The Barkly community of Alpurrurulam, population 345, has only seen 30 (or 9 per cent) first doses administered as of Wednesday.
The Sunday Territorian understands despite at least
six visits to Yuendumu, vaccination rates in the community have only hit 20 per cent.
Health Minister Natasha Fyles blamed “pockets of vaccine hesitancy in some individual communities” for disappointing rates in Central Australia and the Barkly.
“We know there are cases of misinformation circulating in sections of the community and strongly urge all Territorians to get their information on the vaccine from a source of truth,” Ms Fyles said
“We are concentrating our resources heavily in these areas with multiple vacci
nation team visits to communities.”
Australian Medical Association NT president Dr Robert Parker said the government needed to reconsider how it communicated vaccination messages with remote communities.
“It’s probably better to get the (vaccination rate) up before the Wet,” Dr Parker said.
He blamed social media misinformation for convincing many in remote communities to shun the vaccination.
CLP health spokesman Bill Yan said while vaccination
rates in the Top End were “much more positive”, he was concerned about Palumpa and Gunbalanya’s vaccination rates.
“During the wet season, these communities are completely cut off for extended periods.”
Mr Yan said low uptake in Central Australia was down to “vaccine hesitancy, rather than supply issues”.
“The federal government has provided vaccine doses, but Labor has failed to engage with communities to provide the best health advice,” he said.