|7Images reveal most-detailed views of distant galaxiesIndia approves world’s first DNA Covid vaccine© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: AAP
As the Australian government approves the deployment of ADF personnel and scrambles to send extra vaccines to Aboriginal communities of western New South Wales, its own figures reveal that vaccination rates for Indigenous Australians are lagging behind in every state and territory except Victoria.
According to a Guardian Australia analysis of Department of Health figures, Western Australian regions are lagging behind the rest of the country in the overall rollout, with two outback areas having the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
The communities of western NSW are among the least vaccinated in the nation.
In Victoria, an estimated 47% of the Indigenous population aged 16 and over has been vaccinated, which is almost double the vaccination rate for the total population.
Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Vaccho) public health medical officer Dr Jon Gillies said the high uptake was because Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations took over the vaccine rollout from the state’s health department.
“The strong uptake has been assisted by a high number of vaccines being administered state-wide through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, with 17 organisations now administering Pfizer as well as AstraZeneca,” Gillies said.
In all other states and territories, the vaccination rollout for Indigenous Australians lags behind the rate for the total population, with gaps ranging from 8.9 percentage points in the ACT to 16.5 percentage points in WA:
But the minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said on Tuesday he was “really pleased” with vaccination rates among Indigenous Australians, citing vaccine hesitancy as a challenge.
“Part of it is choice,” Wyatt said. “Some people have made choices because they’ve become fearful of adverse effects. But they are now focusing on getting vaccinated. That’s why the vaccination rates have increased substantially.”
But Labor said the low rates are because of a lack of supply and a slow rollout, both federal government responsibilities.
“This represents a complete failure by the Morrison government to roll out the vaccine in First Nations communities, a lack of preparedness for transmission in communities and an absence of any coordination with community health providers,” Labor’s health spokesman, Mark Butler, and Indigenous affairs spokeswoman Linda Burney; said in a joint statement.© Photograph: SUPPLIED/PR IMAGE A Beagle Bay community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Indigenous vaccination rates are lagging behind in every state and territory except Victoria
“This data shows that the prime minister’s rhetoric about First Nations people being a priority in the vaccine rollout is completely empty. First Nations, as part of phase 1B of the rollout, were supposed to be fully vaccinated by winter.”
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