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Australia’s Plan For Re-opening Could Leave Many Vulnerable

 Australia’s Plan For Re-opening Could Leave Many Vulnerable

A group of professionals from several industries in Australia have met to call for a COVID-19 reopening plan in the country to include particular vaccination targets for the susceptible groups, such as the aboriginal Australians.

A newly constituted multidisciplinary network comprising of fifty professionals from engineering, health, and law disciplines opined that the current target of 80% COVID-19 immunisation is not enough for a secure reopening.

A coalition of professionals enthused by the Independent SAGE of the UK aka Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – OzSAGE assembled for the first time last month to give their autonomous suggestions on the plan to get out of the coronavirus pandemic with minimal hospitalisations and negligible deaths.

In the first report of the coalition, it was stated that the current target of 80% inoculations risks leaving out many vulnerable Australians.

“Vaccination rates in the community are widely varied, as seen in regional and remote communities affected by the NSW epidemic. Therefore, we must specify minimum geographic and population sub-group vaccination thresholds for reopening.”

Professor Nancy Baxter, one of the OzSAGE group, confirmed that – at the very least – the 80% threshold ought to be reduced from those aged 16 and above to those aged 12 and above. However, the under-vaccinated pockets of the communities are of the utmost concern, such as those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who are facing more obstacles in gaining access to healthcare.

“You end up getting this triple jeopardy where someone is more at risk, they’re more likely to get COVID, and if they get COVID, they are more likely to have a serious illness.”

“If you don’t have 80 per cent of the disabled, or 80 per cent of the Indigenous community [vaccinated], those people who are most at-risk of COVID are going to be the least protected. So it’s going to result in more illness and death than we have to have”.

“So as part of the opening up, these people need to be kept in mind, and it is very important that they’re not left behind.”

At the time of writing this article, 36% of Australian adults are fully immunised, while 60% have got a dose of the vaccine across the country.

Australia's Plan For Re-opening Could Leave Many Vulnerable

The initiators and founders of OzSAGE agreed that reopening at that rate of vaccination coverage – with no additional public health interventions like ventilation improvement will worsen COVID-19, as discovered in those nations that removed restrictions at around 60% vaccination rates.

The report, however, suggests that scalable involvements should be utilised when required, like masks, booster shots, lockdowns, and crowd control measures to limit contact among people, even upon reopening.

Doctors Push for 90% to 95% Vaccination Rate

The AIDA – the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association is pushing for an increase in the postings of health teams to the local Indigenous communities all over the country to minimise vaccine uncertainty and make sure there is accessibility of supply. These Indigenous doctors have called for a 90 to 95 percent vaccination rate.

According to the released data by the Federal Health Department, the Indigenous immunisation rates are below 10% in the Western Australia Indigenous communities.

Paying Attention to Historically Ignored Voices

The collaboration of professionals is unique, said Dr Kalinda Griffiths, an epidemiologist at UNSW. She is a member of the OzSAGE.

“It is important those insights are generated. This is about enhancing what has already been done [by the government], and I think it is really important for us to get down to some very quite specific nitty-gritty details with this,” Dr Kalinda Griffiths said, as far as the impacts on Indigenous Australians and vulnerable populations are concerned.

“When you’re working within your government systems, you are often limited by page numbers or the duration of time given.”

Hospitals That Are Under Strain

It was predicted that NSW would get to 70% double dose vaccination for those aged 16 years and above by the end of October and 80% by the middle of November.

For several successive days, COVID-19 cases have gone beyond 1,000. Those who are at the helm of affairs say the focus is now on raising vaccination rates to decrease serious hospitalisations. In addition, the hospitals under strain will be revamped to accommodate more patients.

Deepak Gopalakrishnan

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