In light of Victoria entering its fifth lockdown, the challenge has been set for Ballarat to become the first regional centre in Australia to be fully vaccinated.
The Committee for Ballarat has put out a 'call to arms' to every eligible resident to roll up their sleeves and book their jab to help guide Ballarat out of the pandemic.
Less than 10 per cent of Australia's population have received their second jab while about half of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada are fully vaccinated.
This rate leaves Australia ranked 38th out of 38 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
MORE COVID COVERAGE:
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said vaccination was the 'golden ticket' to get out of the pandemic.
"Australia's vaccination rates are very low when compared to other developed countries around the world. We have a long way to go to achieve levels of immunisation that will allow us to enjoy the freedoms we are seeing in other countries such as the US, the UK and Europe, so it's time we acted now," he said.
"The challenge we put to every eligible Ballarat citizen is to roll up your sleeve and make a booking for the jab."
Locally, vaccination rates are strong, according to UFS Pharmacies primary care operations manager Danielle Trezise.
Ms Trezise said while bookings for the Pfizer vaccine were strong, supply is currently limited, and up to 180 people were getting vaccinated at the UFS vaccination centre each day.
The challenge we put to every eligible Ballarat citizen is to roll up your sleeve and make a booking for the jab.Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton
"We're working to try and secure some more so that we can get more people who are meeting the criteria for Pfizer vaccinated," she said.
"We have seen a shift in the demand for AstraZeneca versus Pfizer because they've expanded those age ranges for Pfizer.
"The difficulty is now the bookings for the Pfizer are now out a couple of months because we only have a small supply so we can't book more appointments because we don't have the vaccine."
Mr Trezise said those who do not yet meet the eligibility criteria for the Pfizer vaccine could still receive the AstraZeneca through UFS.
"We do have plenty of AstraZeneca and our bookings are reasonable for that, we certainly do have spaces though for people who want to be vaccinated and don't meet the criteria for Pfizer, we can book them in for an AstraZeneca vaccine," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"Anyone between 16 and 40 who doesn't meet the criteria for Pfizer, as in chronic health conditions and essential workers, can still book but they'll meet the criteria for AstraZeneca."
Ms Trezise said there was still some reluctance from people around the potential side effects of the vaccines.
"There is still some hesitancy just because people are concerned about the side effects but both vaccines have side effects and there are side effects for every medication people take so they just need to consider them and then make a decision based on information and not fear and that sort of thing," she said.
Nicholson Constructions director Richard Nicholson said he was encouraging his staff to get vaccinated when they could.
"We do it each year with flu shots anyway, we offer free flu shots to our staff, and Ballarat Community Health come into our offices and give the jab to whoever would like to take it up and that's the same program that we will be encouraging our staff to take on with COVID as well," he said.
"Sadly, it can't be done in the office, which would be great if we could. It'd be terrific if government actually started giving certain organisations the authority to go and issue the jab. It would be great if they had that capability to be able to come to offices and I think we'd get a much larger take up.
"In the meantime, we'll be encouraging our staff to go and get the jab and it'll be on our time. We'll just say take it on work time, go and get the jab and let us know when you've done it."
Deakin University epidemiology chair Professor Catherine Bennett said the latest lockdown showed that it was getting harder to contain the virus.
"This version of Delta seems to be even more problematic than the version we had before in Melbourne or that we even saw with the NT miner," she said.
"Even though in both New South Wales and Victoria, we knew it was happening quickly and were on it by that first generation of spread, it's still not enough to get in front of it without going into lockdown.
"We know we've got to try and hold it until we can get as many people access to the vaccine as we can, but once we get to that point which, according to the predictions of vaccine supply is going to be the end of the year, we won't be able to hold it much longer after that."
Professor Bennett said the country could not wait until everyone was vaccinated.
"It's only fair that we try and hold it back for as long as we can to get as many people covered and get access to the vaccine, but if people choose not to step up, we won't be waiting until we get 85 per cent coverage, this virus just doesn't let you do that," she said.
"I think this is a really timely reminder that if you're eligible and you've got access to vaccine now, get the vaccine because, it's going to be more and more crowded as the year goes on as people try and get their shots because we will be very, very clear that we are opening up whether we like it or not."
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.