EMERGING jab rates show City of Ballarat is on track to be 80 per cent fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of next month, but community leaders say there are still critical hurdles to clear before opening up.
Namely, the big issue is still in the supply detail.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said it was great to have incentives, such as the notion of a green passport or trial community events for the fully vaccinated, but this was far from fair when there were still many waiting for jab access.
Mr Poulton said the goalposts would change next week when vaccines opened for 12 to 15-year-olds - the eligible population was only getting bigger. As such, Mr Poulton said greater focus needed to be on guaranteed supply to ensure this city could reach and go beyond an 80 per cent jab target.
Mayor Daniel Moloney said more details in vaccination data would be vital to keep moving the jab rate higher. Cr Moloney said the City had written to the federal government, which releases weekly numbers by local government area, seeking better demographic detail to better understand issues to vaccine access.
More than 65 per cent of eligible Ballarat residents, those aged 16-plus, have had their first COVID vaccine dose with 44 per cent double-jabbed, the latest federal health figures show. First doses in Ballarat are up 6.6 percentage points the past week, in line with jumps in Geelong and Warrnambool.
This comes as Victorian premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday hit out at the federal government's prioritisation of Sydney vaccination. Reports have emerged New South Wales general practitioners and the primary health network had been allocated 45 per cent of the nation's Pfizer vaccines last month.
"Some don't like to see this as a race, but a race it surely is," Mr Andrews said.
"I did not know that Premier (Gladys) Berejiklian is in a sprint while the rest of us are supposed to do some egg and spoon race. No. We want our fair share.
"...I am not about getting angry for its own sake. That achieves nothing, but these things need to be called out because that is why we are pushing through 60 per cent and we still have a way to go on 70 and 80.
"This was not announced, this was done without anyone knowing and the Commonwealth has got caught doing it.
"It needs to stop."
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Fully vaccinated Ballarat residents rose 4.4 per cent in the past week. Should jabs continue at this rate, 70 per cent of the city would be fully vaccinated by October 10 and 80 per cent by the month's end.
Cr Moloney said he was curious to know what percentage of Ballarat people were on vaccination waiting lists for Pfizer.
Ballarat Health Services opened walk-ups for AstraZeneca vaccines to over-18s at it jab centre on Friday after the state government halved the interval between AstraZeneca jabs to six weeks.
But the region remained hard-pressed for Pfizer, which is the only approved vaccine for under-18s and only made available to under-40s less than a fortnight ago.
"Our concern now is not the enthusiasm of Ballarat people to get vaccinated, but some people are looking to November before they can get Pfizer," Cr Moloney said.
"We'd be keen to know, as well as supply, what number or percentage of people are on waiting lists in the booking system then we can properly understand our supply and demand equation."
Cr Moloney said a mass vaccination focus had been working well to get people out and jabbed in big numbers, but moving forward, it was going to be vital to know demographics of those not vaccinated to overcome access issues.
Mr Poulton said there was a richness data could provide but at the end of the day, the main game was supply.
He said a lack of guaranteed, increasing vaccine supply prevented Ballarat's health services from planning to meet demand, such as in-school vaccinations or pop-up jab clinics in hard-to-reach communities.
And the same went for smaller towns in the region, whether it be Nhill or Creswick.
"It's a real concern in the last couple of weeks to hear New South Wales has sucked available vaccines into hotspots," Mr Poulton said.
"The federal government hasn't come good...This is about securing supply and especially if millions more Pfizer doses are coming in and Moderna is on the way."
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