Australia sets new daily vaccination record amid concern for Indigenous communities

At least 10 million Australians have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but a growing cluster in western NSW has been deemed 'very concerning' given the high number of Indigenous people living in the area.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt. Source: AAP

Australia has set a new daily record for the number of COVID-19 doses administered, but there are concerns about the lagging vaccination rate for Indigenous Australians.

In the last 24 hours, 279,465 doses were administered in a single day, the equivalent of almost 200 doses per minute. 

"We believe that is the highest number, not just during the COVID vaccination program, but at any point in Australia's history - for vaccinations in a single day," Health Minister Greg Hunt said. 


Nationally, about 50 per cent of Australian adults have received one dose - the equivalent of 10 million doses.

At least 16.6 million COVID-19 doses have been administered in total since the national vaccine rollout began in February. 

"You are creating that light at the end of this tunnel," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said of Australians who have received a COVID-19 dose.

"It is very easy to be overcome by the negativity. Even though the challenges are great, we will overcome it."

He said the 24-hour vaccine rollout tally is also an international record. 

"In the past seven days, as a share of our population, it beats any seven-day in the United Kingdom over their entire vaccination program," he said.

Concern for Indigenous communities in western NSW

Of the 452 cases announced on Tuesday, 18 were in western NSW, bringing the total number of cases in the area to 116.

NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said that was “very concerning” given the high numbers of Indigenous people that live in the state's west.

“The majority of those [116 cases] have been in people who are Aboriginal,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

"We're working closely with the Aboriginal community to keep them safe, to make sure that people are getting tested and making sure that people who have been in contact with other cases are aware that they need to isolate.”

“Special accommodation” is being set up for people to make sure they're kept safe, he added.

At least 30 per cent of Indigenous Australians have received their first dose (169,000), and 15 per cent have had both doses (69,000). 

 shows that the vaccination rates are lower in western NSW.

The proportion of fully vaccinated adults is between 10 and 19 per cent. 

But Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said he is "really pleased" with the national rate of vaccinations for First Nations people.

Mr Wyatt acknowledged that overcoming vaccine hesitancy has been a challenge, but that the latest outbreak has resulted in greater cut-through with the messaging on vaccines. 

"What is becoming very evident is our communities know the challenges, and already leadership is stepping up," he said.

"And whilst the numbers are increasing, they remain optimistic that they will arrest it. I was impressed with some of the local messages that were coming out of the elders and leaders at the community level." 

The first of five ADF teams will arrive in western NSW from tomorrow. The teams will include medics, nurses, logisticians, a clinical lead.

"They will support vaccination. They are highly mobile, highly flexible, highly trained," Mr Hunt said, adding that AUSMAT teams would also be dispatched to "provide clinical support".

The Royal Doctors Flying Service is already in the communities to provide vaccine support.

An additional 9,480 vaccines and 10,000 masks are being sent to the region, with more to be provided if needed. 

'Real cause for hope'

Mr Hunt said having 10 million Australians receive their first dose is an important milestone that would push the country closer to the goal of having 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated. 

"That is the number that is immensely important because it overwhelmingly leads to people having their second dose." 

A second flight from Europe is due to arrive tonight carrying the remainder of the one million Pfizer doses -450,000 doses - bought from Poland.

The first delivery of 530 million doses over the weekend has been tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and will be distributed to virus hotspots in western and south-western Sydney over coming days.

"That is all real cause for hope," Mr Hunt said. 

Vaccines preventing severe hospitalisation

Chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said data from NSW from 74 per cent of the cases, just under 6,000 people, supports the use of vaccination as a tool to prevent severe cases of COVID-19. 

"Ninety-nine per cent of the (COVID-19) cases we've seen have not been vaccinated," he said. 

"Importantly, no fully vaccinated cases have required admission to ICU."

Among the cases, only three per cent were partially vaccinated, and 4 per cent were diagnosed within three weeks of receiving a single vaccination. 

Only one death of a person who was fully vaccinated was recorded: a 91-year-old man who had pre-existing health conditions. 

"Vaccination is key. It is a protection. It is hope. It is our way out of this crisis."

Dr McAnulty said a survey of the data has revealed that the "highest risk (of transmission) is the household", followed by the workplace, "particularly factories and manufacturing". 

He said supermarkets and shopping centres are considered "quite low-risk settings that we don't see very much transmission". 

The NSW data shows that the age group over-represented in the case numbers are younger Australians aged between 20 and 39 - 39 per cent or 5,584 of the 14,201 cases. 

The death from the current outbreak in NSW now stands at 57, representing almost 50 per cent of the state's total COVID-19 death toll of 113 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. 

Geographical data shows areas with fastest increases in vaccine rollout

Mr Morrison said the federal government would be monitoring communities that had lower vaccination rates as the country pushes towards the 70 and 80 per cent vaccination target. 

"But it is concerning to us - what is happening in western NSW...We do see it as a serious situation. And we're moving quickly to work with the NSW government to address it."

He said is being released by the federal health department to assist state and federal officials to identify areas with lower vaccination rates. 

, excluding Western Australia, have reached the milestone of 25 per cent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose. In NSW, 50 per cent have had their first dose. 

The top 22 areas with the largest increase in vaccination rates since 2 August were in NSW, corresponding with the updated ATAGI advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine for younger Australians in virus outbreak settings. 

Double-digit increases were recorded in the NSW LGAs of concern, with Blacktown posting a 13.9 per cent increase and Parramatta a 12.6 per cent increase.

The areas with the lowest increases were the outback areas of Western Australia (2.9 per cent) and the Northern Territory (3 per cent).

7 min read
Published 17 August 2021 at 9:19pm
By Biwa Kwan
Source: SBS News