Vaccination: A third jab will finish the job

Committee for Ballarat’s Purpose is to “Inspire diverse thought leadership and unlock potential”. Our Vision is for a “thriving and vibrant regional community known for its liveability, sustainability and inclusiveness”.

So who is Committee for Ballarat and why seemingly are we in the paper so often? We are a member organisation, incorporating the largest employers to sole traders and individuals from the community. Our members are committed to working in a non-partisan way, across the three layers of government, to advocate for Ballarat and the long-term strategic projects that can help realise the vision for our region.

In 2021, there has been no more important issue in relation to a “vibrant and thriving regional community”, than Vaccination. It has been and will continue to be, the single most important factor in breaking the cycle of lockdowns and restrictions. Our COVID Normal is now a reality and how good does it feel!

Early in 2021, Committee started talking about vaccination. Our members embraced the view that a ‘whole of community’ approach was both our best form of defence and attack in order to mitigate the disastrous impacts of COVID-19. This is the third Opinion Piece I have written on the subject and each time, I have praised the incredible work of Ballarat Health Services, UFS, Ballarat Community Health and the Primary Health Network (representing the GPs), and most importantly, our amazing community who have turned out in force to “Roll Up a Sleeve” and get vaccinated.

Ballarat is now more than 95%+ double dose vaccinated for the population over 15. By the time you’re reading this, Victoria’s double dose vaccinated rate for those over the age of 12, will be above 90% and across the country, we are mid-80s. These numbers are the envy of the world and we should be proud of the community effort that has seen more than 9 out of every 10 people above the age of 12, get vaccinated to help protect themselves and our community.

Just five weeks ago we were celebrating 90% single dose in Ballarat for the 16 years plus, so it is astonishing to know that we have now reached 90% double dose for the Victorian population 12 years and over. We have built a ‘force field’ that will help protect us, protect our health care system and ease the potential for any further widespread lockdowns.

It is because of the vaccination rates in Ballarat, Victoria and Australia, that now, for the first time in two long years, we again have the opportunity to ‘Unlock our Regional Potential’. Our COVID Normal is now a reality and great possibility awaits.

It is worth dwelling on where we sit in relation to the rest of the world, and as I say, our numbers are enviable. Here’s the proof – In Australia, our total cases of COVID, per 1 million people is 7,400. In the UK, this is 141,500. In Canada, 89,500 and in Singapore it’s 40,800.

Victoria’s 90%+ and Australia’s 85% double dose vaccination rate, compares to Germany at 67.7%, USA at 59.1%, Malaysia 80.1%, Argentina 61.1% and South Africa 23.2%. An amazing effort, especially after what can only be described as a slow start to vaccination.

A key message for our community now is that we must not miss the opportunity these vaccination numbers have presented us with. There is great possibility in all areas of our recovery and our community should look forward with optimism. However, the vaccination job is not done yet, but we are so close.

All the evidence from around the world indicates that COVID requires a third dose, 6 months after a second dose, to ensure a stronger and more enduring immune response.

We must now ask our community for an additional effort in order to maintain our defence against COVID and ensure 2022 does not bring with it further COVID restrictions. Mark your diary now for six months after the date of your second vaccination.

We need to finish the job and get the 3rd jab. It really is as simple as that.

We were slow to start this race, but our efforts have been amazing to get ahead. We now have the opportunity to ensure we are not exposed again to any vulnerability. A third jab will do this and help us finish the race.

Michael Poulton
CEO, Committee for Ballarat