Latrobe City has Gippsland’s lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate

There is a new COVID-19 case in the Latrobe Valley.

Michelle Slater

LATROBE City continues to have the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates out of the six Gippsland local government areas, according to the latest federal government health data.

Local government COVID-19 vaccination rates up to September 12 revealed only 39.5 per cent of Latrobe City residents aged 15 years or over have received two doses.

That ranks Latrobe City behind East Gippsland (52.6 per cent), Bass Coast (52.3), Wellington (47.9), South Gippsland (46) and Baw Baw (43.5) when it comes to double vaccinations.

Statewide figures reveal 40.95 per cent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated  while 66.82 per cent had received a first dose.

For single vaccinations, Latrobe City sits a distant last at 61.7 per cent, behind Bass Coast (79.9 per cent), East Gippsland (76.3), South Gippsland (74.4), Wellington (70.6) and Baw Baw (67.3).

A Gippsland Regional Public Health Unit spokesperson said Latrobe City contained 40 per cent of Gippsland’s overall population, which meant it was “naturally going to take longer for people (in Latrobe) to get vaccinated”.

The spokesperson said the GRPHU was building on a vaccination outreach program to get more needles into local arms.

It is being developed in partnership with local health services and community organisations to target remote and vulnerable people in Gippsland.

It comes as people between 16 and 59 can access the Pfizer vaccine, while over 60s are eligible for AstraZeneca without any criteria.

“We have the student blitz currently operating and (children from) 12 to 15 years are eligible under selective criteria,” the spokesperson said.

“Vaccine supply is constantly increasing as is eligibility criteria.

“People can now get vaccinated at state-run community vaccination centres, at their local GP clinic, a respiratory clinic and participating pharmacies.”

The GRPHU spokesperson said vax rates may be higher in other parts of Gippsland due to older overall demographics, where eligibility was initially a priority.

“With the increase in eligibility and access to the vaccine, we suspect the numbers getting vaccinated will steadily increase across the board – as figures are already starting to show,” the spokesperson said.

Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas congratulated regional Victorians for rolling up their sleeves, stating vaccination was the pathway out of the pandemic.

“We are looking all the time which way we can get more vaccines into more arms as quickly as possible,” Ms Thomas said.

“We can only operate with the supply we have, we will continue to advocate to our Commonwealth government for Victoria to receive its fair share of vaccines.”