HEALTH experts say Ballarat needs a clearer, more coordinated picture on the region's COVID-19 jabs in a bid to better target access where it was needed most. But this is also a complicated ask.
New Victorian government data shows 21 per cent of Grampians residents, aged 16-plus, have received their first COVID-19 vaccination. This lags behind the Albury-Wodonga (28 per cent) and Barwon (27 per cent) regions and is on par with Bendigo.
Such rates do not include Commonwealth-led roll-outs, which in Ballarat is general practitioners and UFS, with the federal government withholding data.
World-leading epidemiologist Richard Osborne, who specialises in health literacy, said while a more complete and detailed data was important, the key to Ballarat "shining" in vaccinations was about engagement.
Such a movement is already under way in the city with Committee for Ballarat about to step up its call to arms on work-places, community organisations and families to encourage the jab.
Professor Osborne said partial data risked disengaging and complacency among whole communities, or potential vilification of some culturally diverse communities, particularly if messaging and data between different levels of government became mixed.
He said there would always be different jab rates among communities, depending on a whole range of accessibility factors such as the number of GPs in town, travel or seasonal work in farming.
But Professor Osborne said clearer data could be used to better support low jabs in some demographics.
"We need to know the proportions in density of pharmacists per region and density in GPs vaccinating," he said. "What we need is more community health services able to safely reach out...we need to make sure these teams are really well supported."
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Professor Osborne said improving vaccinations would take harnessing great combined energy and passion, similar to how communities were tackling the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project.
To get there, Professor Osborne said community health teams needed support from football clubs, Rotarians, imans, priests or farming leaders to rally peers and organise collective jab sessions and incentives.
Committee for Ballarat last month challenged the region to become the first fully vaccinated regional centre.
Committee chief Michael Poulton said rather than focus on vaccination rates, the focus needed to shift to vaccine availability and community leadership like Professor Osborne had outlined.
"Our messaging needs to be around hope, inspiration and joy in doing the right thing by the community," Mr Poulton said. "This is our way out."
Mr Poulton said we need to look at opportunity rather than grapple solely with complicated pictures in vaccination rates.
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