It would be impossible for the ACT Government to reach its 90 per cent vaccination milestone if children under the age of 12 were included in the population data, which is being championed by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Figures from ACT Health reveal that 106 per cent of residents aged over 12 – vaccines are currently only available for people above that age – would need to be inoculated to reach the coverage Chief Minister Andrew Barr wants for the Territory.
The ACT would require 95 per cent of all residents over the age of 12 to be vaccinated to reach the 80 per cent milestone outlined in the National Plan if children under the age of 12 were included in the population statistics.
More than 10 per cent of the total ACT population is under 12 years of age and not currently able to be vaccinated.
An ACT Health spokesperson said the ACT Government “is keen to see the national plan include all people who have an approved vaccine, that being people aged 12 years and over”.
The vaccination percentage is currently based on the ACT’s population aged 16 and over. If people over the age of 12 are included in this, with two vaccines now being approved for use in the 12 to 17-year-old cohort, it would take the ACT about another week to reach the 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets.
The ACT is due to have 50 per cent of residents fully vaccinated this week and is predicted to reach the 80 per cent threshold by mid-November.
The additional supply of Pfizer from Commonwealth deals with Poland, Singapore and the UK, and a rebalancing of Pfizer supply to Australian jurisdictions after NSW received more vaccines per capita due to its outbreak, may expedite this slightly.
But Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, has warned against any expected return to normal once the 80 per cent vaccination threshold is reached, saying inconsistent vaccine uptake across states and communities will need to be considered when assessing local public health responses.
“The modelling attached to the transition plan tells us when we can expect vaccination coverage to afford a safer setting to moderate our other control measures. It will not happen exactly at 70 or 80 per cent, but progressively,” Professor Bennett said.
“Restrictions of some kind will therefore be required wherever community transmission persists until we break through these targets and … when we can safely ease back on aggressive suppression.
“We can look forward to a stepped easing of restrictions as we keep hospitalisations in check. We are already seeing hospitalisation rates suppressed by vaccination coverage in those most at-risk. We are watching this transition in motion as we battle to contain this latest wave in south-east Australia.”
None of the 34 people who have been hospitalised in the ACT during the delta outbreak has been fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated people in NSW made up only 2.6 per cent of the state’s 12,355 locally acquired cases between 1 March to 21 August. More than three in four people infected during the outbreak were unvaccinated and the vaccination status of more than 10 per cent of cases remain under investigation.
Fully vaccinated people were also significantly less likely to die or be hospitalised and even more unlikely to end up in intensive care.