By: Tom McIlroy
Melbourne’s spike in new COVID-19 cases is already driving bigger uptake of vaccines, with a record 15,816 doses delivered across Victoria in the 24 hours to Wednesday afternoon.
A record for doses administered around the country – 104,658 jabs in 24 hours – was also achieved, as data collected by The Australian Financial Review showed about 2 per cent of Australian adults are now fully vaccinated.
NSW leads the nation for second vaccine doses, with more than 99,000 people already administered either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.
The latest data from Victoria’s Health Department showed more than 60,900 people had received two doses so far, ahead of nearly 49,300 in Western Australia.
Speed of second doses is connected to overall take up of the vaccines. First and second shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine are being administered 12 weeks apart, while the Pfizer vaccine requires a three-week interval.
The data is also inconsistent around the country: states including Queensland and South Australia are not publishing numbers of second doses and the daily national update only includes total doses.
Western Australia is publishing data that suggests 2.3 per cent of people in the state are fully vaccinated. The WA vaccine dashboard includes data on other states, sourced from the Australian Immunisation Register.
National cabinet is under pressure to change the reporting standard at its June 4 meeting, with the federal government and states including South Australia open to full vaccinations being added to a daily data release.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told Parliament on Wednesday the national rollout was gaining pace.
“More Australians are being vaccinated every day,” he said in question time.
“Three weeks ago was a record week, two weeks ago was another record, last week was a record. This week we’ve already seen a record number of vaccinations.”
He said 95 per cent of aged care facilities around the country had seen vaccinations take place.
“As of today, 50 per cent of over-70s around Australia have been vaccinated.”
But Labor remains unimpressed. As US President Joe Biden said 50 per cent of American adults were fully vaccinated, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese slammed the 2 per cent figure for Australia.
The federal government on Wednesday night announced plans to send 130,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Melbourne, starting with 40,000 doses this week.
Victorian authorities battling a spike in new cases will have access to 15,000 AstraZeneca doses each week for six weeks.
Data analyst Anthony Macali, who runs the COVIDLive.com.au website, said it appeared states and territories were working to expand the data being regularly released.
“The ultimate goal is to get everyone in the country vaccinated. If we don’t get everyone fully vaccinated, we won’t have that protection and we won’t have confidence in opening up the borders,” he said.
“All these decisions are dependent on how much of the population are fully vaccinated.
“Why is it so difficult to release these numbers? It’s clearly available. What’s stopping its release, even if it’s weekly? It doesn’t have to be daily.”
Victorian Labor MP Peta Murphy said the rollout had not been fast enough.
“We can’t pretend that COVID is over and everything is well and good, particularly when we don’t have a national quarantine strategy and the vaccine rollout is so far behind schedule,” she said.