Renewed push to vaccinate Indigenous Victorians as state records 1,461 COVID-19 cases

About 58 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria aged over 12 are fully vaccinated, compared to 91.4 per cent of the wider population.

Health Minister Martin Foley

Health Minister Martin Foley said more needs to be done to boost vaccination rates in Indigenous communities. Source: Twitter/ Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

The Victorian government is embarking on a final push to boost COVID-19 vaccination among Indigenous communities, as jab rates lag behind the state's average.  

As of Monday, 91.4 per cent of Victoria's adult population have received one vaccine dose while 74 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

Health Minister Martin Foley said almost 80 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 12 have had one vaccine and 58 per cent are fully vaccinated.

"That is clearly below where the wider community averages," he told reporters on Monday. 

"While these figures are above the national rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, they are still not what they should be. 

"The truth is we need to do more. We need to make sure that particularly when it comes to communities that have lower vaccination levels... [they] are supported every step of the way."

Vaccination van and pop-up clinics will be deployed to to Seymour, Warrnambool, the Mornington Peninsula and Grampians regions in the coming days and weeks. 

Michael Graham, chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, said while most Elders had been vaccinated, there's still a fair share of young people who are yet to be vaccinated. 

"We don't have too many Aboriginal health services out there, so we will be taking the van out there," Mr Graham said.

"I would like to thank the state government for all the support they have given us through the pandemic. It has been a race for Aboriginal people to get vaccinated."

Mr Graham said as of Monday, the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service has administered 7,100 vaccinations.

He said having Aboriginal-led services has been critical in getting the community vaccinated, but there's still some fear in the community.

"You've got to look at the history of this country and the amount of viruses that... have been introduced and the effects that's had on Aboriginal people, many deaths and things like that," he said. 

"There's always going to be a fear of any vaccine coming into this country."

Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar said two thirds of the daily cases in the state are not vaccinated.

"We continue to see an age profile under the age of 14. Some of the local government areas of concern, in Wyndham, 96 per cent of those new cases under the age of 40 were not vaccinated," he said.

"In Hume, 97 per cent of new cases under the age of 40 were not fully vaccinated."

It comes as the state recorded 1,461 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths on Monday.

There are now 24,831 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 230 people have died during the current Delta outbreak.

The premier announced on Sunday a further easing of restrictions will kick in on Friday at 6pm, when around 80 per cent of the population aged over 16 is expected to be fully vaccinated.

These will include the scrapping of outdoor face masks, the return of regional travel across the state, and the opening of indoor entertainment venues, gyms and retail for the fully vaccinated.

Capacity limits will also increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.

With AAP

Published 25 October 2021 at 9:23am, updated 25 October 2021 at 12:51pm
By Eden Gillespie
Source: SBS News