COVID-19 vaccination rates for Aboriginal people in Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) are among the highest in NSW and continuing to climb, according to the latest data from the Australian Immunisation Register.
Among those who identify as Aboriginal in WNSWLHD, to 24 October 77.6 per cent of people aged 16 years and older had received a first dose of vaccine and 67.1 per cent had received two doses. These rates are well above the NSW figures for Aboriginal people, which were 68.4 per cent for first doses and 58.2 per cent for second doses.
Similarly, vaccination rates for Aboriginal children aged 12-15 years in WNSWLHD were 70.1 per cent for first doses and 55.8 per cent for second doses compared to 59.9 for first doses and 41.2 for second doses state-wide
Brendon Cutmore, WNSWLHD Executive Director of Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing, said he is very proud of how the District’s Aboriginal communities have responded to the need to get vaccinated, particularly amid the latest Delta outbreak in Western NSW.
“Around 11 per cent of our District’s population identify as Aboriginal, yet we made up more than 60 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in this outbreak and sadly around half of the deaths recorded,” Mr Cutmore said.
“Unfortunately COVID has hit our Mob hard, and disproportionately to the District’s population as a whole, but we’ve also seen these amazing communities pull together and support each other.
“With the help of our Aboriginal Health Workers, community leaders and partners such as local Aboriginal Medical Services and Land Councils, our region has managed to bring the Delta outbreak under control and reach even some of our most remote communities with vaccine”.
Paul Douglas, WNSWLHD Aboriginal Health Northern Sector Manager, said the effectiveness of the vaccines for controlling COVID-19 and helping protect tight-knit, remote communities is clear to see.
“We’re seeing really good vaccination rates among our Aboriginal populations in communities such as Brewarrina, Goodooga and Weilmoringle, sometimes higher that the rest of the population, and in those places we’ve also seen limited cases and no community transmission,” Mr Douglas said.
“Obviously being COVID safe has helped, but I think it’s the vaccination rates that are making the biggest difference of all.
“When we see every person over the age of 12 vaccinated in a household or close community it’s really playing a big role in protecting everyone, especially the young kids and elders.”
Mr Cutmore said while the WNSWLHD Aboriginal vaccination rates are pleasing, he wants to see a continued rise to close the gap to the overall WNSWLHD or state-wide figures.
“Our goal is to see the entire District well above 90 per cent fully vaccinated, including our Aboriginal people, and that’s something I’m really passionate about,” said Mr Cutmore.
“I’d really love to see all of our Aboriginal communities taking up the opportunity for vaccination in the kind of numbers we’re seeing in the Brewarrina LGA, particularly before we get an influx of visitors as the state continues to open up.
“I know there has been a lot of misinformation, fear and rumours surrounding both the virus and vaccination, but we have a fantastic team of Aboriginal Health Practitioners and Workers who are doing everything they can to get real and practical information to our Mob.
“If you’ve got any questions at all about vaccines please chat to one of the team or your local GP or pharmacist. They’re health experts, they’re the ones who have the real answers and can help you separate rumours from facts.
“Remember, having both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine is the best defence we have against this virus and it’ll help keep us all safe, particularly the precious kids and elders in our communities.
“I really encourage every eligible Aboriginal person in Western NSW who hasn’t done so already to come forward for vaccination and have a yarn to those around you, to encourage them to get the jab too.”
For more information on COVID-19 vaccination or to find a clinic or vaccine provider in Western NSW, visit the Western NSW Local Health District website.