Trendy tourist and celebrity haven Byron Bay has the lowest vaccination coverage for first dose in NSW and the Deputy Prime Minister says anti-vaccination groups are to blame.
New figures released as part of the federal government’s Operation Covid Shield show that the Richmond-Tweed area in the northeast of the state, which Byron is also a part of, is lagging behind other communities.
“Nobody likes to hear it, but in some areas you have a large anti-vaxxer population, and I’m going to say there’s a problem there,” the state’s second politician, John Barilaro, said Tuesday.
Beachfront surf spot Byron Bay lags the rest of NSW for first dose of Covid jabs (Photo: Byron residents in town on Saturday)
He was questioned by regional reporters as to why some areas were slower to roll up their sleeves for a vaccination than others.
“The other part would be eligible for and access to vaccination,” Mr Barilaro said.
According to the Covid Shield data, Richmond Tweed has a first dose vaccination rate of 65.4, the lowest in NSW and the second lowest double dose of 38.8 percent.
The state’s lowest double dose belongs to the nearby New England and Northwest region, where 38.1 percent of the locals have had both shots.
Mr Barilo said he believed more people in those regions would receive a Covid vaccine in the coming weeks.
“There’s no reason you can’t get that higher… It might not be as high as other parts of the state… there will be areas that just don’t want to be vaccinated and I have to accept,” he said. .
‘It’s unfair because they get the benefits when the rest of the state opens up’ [but] everyone else has done the heavy lifting.’
The deputy prime minister said ‘there will be areas that just don’t want to be vaccinated’ (Photo: Byron Bay beach on Saturday)
Tweed Family Clinic practice manager Katerina Ristevska said the changing government coverage of the AstraZeneca guidelines has contributed to the slow adoption.
“You come on Monday and they say you can’t have it if you’re under 60, then under 50, then everything changes,” Ms Ristevska said. The Daily Telegraph.
She said it was a problem at the time to get eligibility for a large proportion of residents under 40, but when they started giving Pfizer shots, the problem now is availability.
Her clinic is fully booked until the end of October for the shots they have – about 500 a week – and Ms Ristevski says the vaccination requirement to cross into Queensland was what caused the rise.
A vaccine was opened in Dubbo on Aug. 21 (pictured) in an effort to increase vaccine numbers in the western state region
On the other side of NSW, the mayor of Dubbo in the west of the state has also criticized anti-vaccination groups that discourage vaccine uptake.
The area, which has a large indigenous population, is currently subject to stay-at-home restrictions following an outbreak in the region.
There are about a thousand cases of COVID-19 in western NSW, with authorities particularly concerned about the northwestern town of Walgett.
Jeremy McAnulty of NSW Health said on Monday that 12 new locally acquired cases in the western state had brought the total there to 978, with five in Bathurst, four in Dubbo, two in Bourke and one in Walgett.
Dubbo mayor said anti-vaccination theories online must be answered with ‘critical thinking’ (Photo: Dubbo in August)
A local Indigenous leader, Ann-Maree Chandler who is director of Indidg Connect, recently wrote to her public Facebook page that people should reconsider getting vaccinated.
“For those who support vaccination because you think it will have a positive impact, please get down to the facts and what’s happening elsewhere in the world with vax and drugs… ask more questions!” Ms Chandler wrote.
When asked about her views, Dubbo mayor Stephen Lawrence said he would not respond directly to the post, but generally disagreed with those views.
“I would never comment on what a person says, because we have to be nice and recognize that diversity will always be there, but I would encourage anyone who is hesitant to vaccinate to test these theories because they are absolutely b**. ****t,” said Mr. Lawrence.
He added that indigenous groups were particularly vulnerable but also had some of the lowest vaccine rates in the region.
Public health data in August showed that about 30 percent of the Indigenous community in Far West Orana had received their first dose, but this had risen to about 48 percent by early September.
About 40 percent of residents of the Dubbo region have had two doses of vaccine.
The Dubbo and Walgett areas have a large indigenous population that is vulnerable (Photo: Dubbo in August)