‘Trust the science’ — AMA head urges regions to roll up their sleeves as jab figures reveal huge disparities

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Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
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NEw Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith.
Camera IconNEw Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith. Credit: The West Australian, by Nic Ellis The West Australian

Coronavirus vaccination statistics have revealed wild variations across our region with the head of the Australian Medical Association WA urging country communities to get the jab before COVID-19 sweeps across WA.

In the Great Southern and southern Wheatbelt, some shires are leading the vaccination charge for regional WA, while others are dragging down the rest of the State.

On Monday, WA’s fully vaccinated rate for eligible residents aged 16 and over was 59.58 per cent, according to the Federal Government — well down on the national average of 73.4 per cent.

From Wickepin (71.9 per cent) to Woodanilling (42.7 per cent), the rates showed a distinct lack of consistency from shire to shire.

AMA WA president Mark Duncan-Smith has called on residents to “trust the science” after statistics showed that several communities were lagging well behind the WA average.

Three neighbouring shires were among the worst in the State, with Woodanilling (42.7), Broomehill-Tambellup (45.6) and Katanning (48.6) all ranked in the bottom 10.

Those results come despite multiple Pfizer clinics hosted by WA Health and two pharmacies in Katanning offering vaccinations since July.

Julie Phillips, Peter Kumeroa and Sharon Russell roll up at the 2021 Katanning Agricultural Show.
Camera IconJulie Phillips, Peter Kumeroa and Sharon Russell roll up at the 2021 Katanning Agricultural Show. Credit: Tom Shanahan

The rates were in stark contrast to the nearby Shire of Kojonup which sits near the top of the pile in regional WA with a fully vaccinated rate of 67.5 per cent and a single-dose rate of 89.9 per cent.

Further north, the Shire of Boddington’s fully vaccinated rate of 46.4 per cent was more than 20 per cent lower than the Shire of Brookton (67.3 per cent).

The biggest local government in the region, the City of Albany, had a fully vaccinated rate of 59.7 per cent, marginally higher than the State average.

Dr Duncan-Smith said unvaccinated residents in our region could face “dire consequences” when the Delta strain arrives.

“People who get COVID-19 can deteriorate very quickly, and (they) could deteriorate so quickly they wouldn’t have enough time to get transferred to a regional centre or to Perth,” he said.

“The time to get vaccinated isn’t when there is an outbreak, because the vaccine at that stage won’t have had enough time to give you protection.

You are 11 more times less likely to die from COVID-19 if you are vaccinated.

The statistics back up concerns voiced by pharmacists in our region about AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccinations going to waste because of vaccine apathy.

Great Southern Community Chemist managing pharmacist Ray Cui with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Camera IconGreat Southern Community Chemist managing pharmacist Ray Cui with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Tom Shanahan/Tom Shanahan

Last week, Premier Mark McGowan announced vaccination mandates that will require about 60 per cent of WA’s workforce to be fully vaccinated by the end of January or risk facing a $20,000 fine.

Dr Duncan-Smith said the COVID vaccines were “safe and extremely effective”.

“If you’ve got the choice to get the vaccine now or later, you might as well now because you are either going to get the vaccine or you are going to get COVID,” he said.

“People need to trust the science, they need to trust the medical fraternity.

“In America, of the patients who are admitted to hospital with severe disease, 95 per cent of them are unvaccinated.”

To book a vaccination, visit rollup.wa.gov.au.

NEw Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith.
Camera IconNEw Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith. Credit: by Nic Ellis The West Australian

COVID VACCINATION RATES

Albany 79 / 59.7

Boddington 63 / 46.4

Brookton 81.8 / 67.3

Broomehill-Tambellup 62.9 / 45.6

Cranbrook 77 / 56.3

Denmark 74.6 / 59.1

Katanning 69.9 / 48.6

Kojonup 89.9 / 67.5

Narrogin 75.4 / 62.6

Pingelly 80.3 / 63.4

Plantagenet 77.3 / 58.4

Wagin 78.7 / 63.2

Wandering 74.4 / 58

West Arthur 73.7 / 55.8

Wickepin 88.1 / 71.9

Williams 80.4 / 64.4

Woodanilling 59.7 / 42.7

Single dose and fully vaccinated rates as a percentage of eligible 16+ residents on Monday, October 25. Data not provided for some local governments.

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