With some Ballarat suburbs falling behind in the rate of people receiving a their third COVID-19 vaccination and neighbouring towns leading the state, the city's leading voice on the vaccine rollout has urged residents to get the job done.
In the latest vaccination data released by the state government earlier this week, several key Ballarat postcodes were struggling to keep up with the rest of the state.
In the 3350 postcode, which includes the majority of the city, up to 40 per cent of eligible residents had received a booster shot as of Tuesday, while the number was lower in the 3355 postcode at up to 35 per cent and the 3356 postcode at up to 30 per cent.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said Ballarat must finish the job it started and get to 90 per cent triple dosed.
"I have real confidence in the fact that we were able to go from single dose to double dose and, at the time, finish the job. What's clear now is that there is a third dose that's required and the job hasn't been finished and once we start a job, we need to finish it," he said.
"I think we've got to continue to work as we did in the first and second dose and get to those hard to get communities and, in the same way we did with the first and second dose, go to the people because clearly there are some barriers to getting vaccinated and we've got to make it as easy as we possibly can for people."
Just down the road, Daylesford has one of the best booster shot rates in the state, with up to 65 per cent of eligible residents in the 3460 postcode having received their third jab. Buninyong, too, is ahead of the pack with up to 55 per cent of eligible residents receiving their booster shot.
Comparing with other regional rivals, Ballarat is struggling to keep up with Geelong, which has up to 50 per cent of eligible residents triple-dosed in the central 3220 postcode, up to 45 per cent in the western 3218 postcode and up to 60 per cent in the southern 3221 postcode.
Ballarat's numbers more closely align with Bendigo, which has up to 40 per cent of eligible residents triple vaccinated in both the 3550 and 3555 postcodes.
Mr Poulton said the noticeable margins in booster shot rates between postcodes was likely caused by differing demographics, in both age and socioeconomic status.
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"It's an older population, therefore more vulnerable and therefore people are seeking to ensure they are protected as best as possible, but I think it also talks to perhaps the level of health literacy that people are informed and understand the importance of this and they're really attuned to ensuring their health and wellbeing is looked after," he said.
"It's hard not to kind of align that with socioeconomic data as well... In some of the lower socioeconomic areas, we see low vaccination rates, we also see a higher proportion of vulnerable people, which means we need to get to those people to assist them as best we possibly can and make it as easy as possible to get vaccinated."
Deakin University chair of epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett said the speed of uptake on the booster shot was directly tied to the primary vaccination rollout due to the three-month waiting period.
"People who got their primary dose later will still be waiting, even to get to three months. That makes a bit of a difference because suburbs actually vary a lot also by age and structure," she said.
"If that's adjusted, if that's the percentage of people eligible, then it's still probably a sign that booster uptake is more a focus for older people and people with other comorbidities that might not be such a strong interest in areas where you've got a lot of young adults and they're not queueing up as quickly because they're not so concerned about serious illness with Omicron, even though this will reduce the risk of symptomatic infection, which the primary course didn't do."
Professor Bennett said there could be some complacency among young adults as many of them have already contracted the Omicron variant in recent weeks.
"A lot of young adults actually already have had Omicron, so for them, it's not quite the same sell if they've already had it so in some of those areas where we've had the highest case numbers, they may also be thinking 'the booster protects against symptomatic infection but I've already had it'," she said.
"But the point is, this will protect against symptomatic infection with other variants as well, presumably, because it gives you a broader coverage.
"Particularly for anyone at risk of hospitalisation, this booster really counts. For younger people, if you haven't had Omicron or Delta recently, then the booster really helps to protect against any symptomatic infection and that can make your life a lot more pleasant, even if you don't have to deal with even a mild disease."
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