VICTORIA'S chief health officer Brett Sutton might be "cautiously optimistic" active COVID-19 case numbers are downward-trending but Ballarat community leaders continue to rally to ensure everyone has access to a vaccine against the deadly virus.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive officer Michael Pouton said the city's latest vaccination rates were fantastic, with more than 90 per cent of residents aged 15 years-plus at least partially protected.
Mr Poulton said the focus needed to shift on really getting people to take up their second jab, made easier by a shorter Pfizer interval and rising access to all vaccines via pharmacies, general practitioners and vaccination hubs.
At the same time, Mr Poulton said this is where targeted pop-up jab clinics were vital in ensuring Ballarat left no-one behind as the state re-opened.
City of Ballarat south ward councillor and proud Sebastopol resident Des Hudson is actively encouraging people living in Sebastopol, Delacombe and Winter Valley to roll-up their sleeves more.
The latest vaccine data by postcodes shows about 70 per cent of eligible residents living in postcode 3356 have have their first COVID jab. This is about 15 percentage points behind the bulk of the city, living in 3350.
Where there are pop-ups, there are opportunities. We need to be making sure when we book in, we turn up and get the jab.Des Hudson, City of Ballarat south ward councillor
"Our key to freedom and resuming life as the new normal is rolling up our sleeves and booking a vaccination. There are plenty of new opportunities out there," Cr Hudson said.
"Postcode 3356 might be at the bottom for vaccinations in the City of Ballarat, but I call on '3356-ers' to unite and step-up and lead.
"Where there are pop-ups, there are opportunities. We need to be making sure when we book in, we turn up and get the jab."
Professor Sutton said once the lockdown restrictions were lifted in the coming weeks, there would undoubtedly be more virus spreading to the regions.
Ballarat recorded four new COVID cases on Tuesday after one on Monday and eight reported late Sunday night.
There were 110 new infections in regional Victoria recorded on Tuesday among the state's 1466 daily tally.
"So regional Victorians, don't put off vaccination because you haven't seen COVID in that community," Professor Sutton said and added it took at least an extra week for full immunity to kick in after a second jab.
Cr Hudson urged his constituents to make the most of increasing access to jabs in the area.
Ballarat Health Services has plans underway to host a pop-up clinic with the Phoenix Community College in Sebastopol, similarly to the joint initiative with Mount Rowan and Yuille Park Colleges in Wendouree last weekend.
Vax on Vickers has become the popular name for Ballarat Community Health's new vaccination hub at its Sebastopol clinic. BCH last week channelled its vaccinations to the central location in a bid to do more jabs, more efficiently.
Warrnambool and Geelong residents are clearly leading the way in first and second doses while Ballarat, after a double-jab surge, is only marginally behind Horsham and Bendigo in the full vaccination rate.
Professor Sutton poured cold water on the chance for restrictions to lift early in regional Victoria even though vaccination rates were generally ahead of Melbourne in tracking to hit 70 and 80 per cent double-dose benchmarks early.
"The plan for the roadmap is statewide," Professor Sutton said. "It is really difficult to pick off individual local government areas, people would make the claim for a patchwork of LGAs within metropolitan Melbourne on that basis.
"We are looking to that statewide average. But again, I am calling out for every local government area that doesn't have that higher vaccination coverage, there will be movement of people through your LGA into regional Victoria and across Melbourne, more so as time goes by."
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