Concern over low third vaccine dose rates

By Paul Osborne
Updated August 6 2022 - 3:08am, first published 3:03am
Authorities are concerned the number of Australians getting their third COVID jab is flatlining. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

State and federal authorities are concerned the number of Australians getting their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is flatlining.

To date, 71.4 per cent of eligible Australians, or just over 14.1 million people, have received a third dose.

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But there are more than 5.6 million yet to get their booster.

Queensland is the worst-performing state, with 64.5 per cent of eligible residents boosted, while the ACT has the best coverage (79.9 per cent).

The booster rate is 55 per cent for Indigenous Australians nationally.

New third doses are barely rising each day, ranging from NSW recording 2075 on Friday and the Northern Territory 45.

"Third booster dose rates have flatlined, which is something I'm very concerned about," Health Minister Mark Butler says.

Information campaigns are being rolled out but there is a persistent problem with the slow rate of uptake by under-65s.

So far 4.22 million Australians have received a fourth dose, after the program was extended several weeks ago.

Opposition health spokeswoman Anne Ruston says the federal government's response to the Omicron wave is "worrying".

"They have ended a range of supports that have helped Australians through the pandemic and have been forced to backflip on the pandemic leave disaster payment," she told AAP.

"With no explanation and no apparent advice or modelling to support their decisions, 70 COVID-related telehealth items, free RATS for concession card holders and aged care homes, and Operation COVID Shield have all ended."

Senator Rushton said the government should release its health advice and modelling.

National cabinet, which is overseeing the pandemic response, is due to next meet on August 31.

The vaccination concerns come with Victoria announcing slightly fewer patients awaiting elective surgery despite one of the worst winters on record due to a horror flu season and the ongoing pandemic.

The state's wait list for elective procedures shrunk from a revised 88,920 to 87,275 during the June quarter, while Ambulance Victoria experienced the busiest period for code one call-outs in its history.

With data still to come for South Australia, more than 26,000 new virus cases had been recorded across the nation on Saturday, along with 76 deaths.

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:

NSW: 11,998 cases, 30 deaths, 2187 in hospital with 57 in ICU

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Victoria: 6261 cases, 24 deaths, 668 in hospital with 36 in ICU

Tasmania: 651 cases, one death, 23 in hospital with five in ICU

ACT: 579 cases, one death, 135 in hospital with two in ICU

WA: 2911 cases, two deaths, 346 in hospital with 14 in ICU

Queensland: 4174 cases, 18 deaths, 703 in hospital with 26 in ICU

NT: 231 cases, no deaths, 43 in hospital with one in ICU.

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Australian Associated Press