Indigenous Communities Slip Between Covid Cracks As Jab Rates Lag
While the vaccine race continues to ramp up ahead of the borders reopening on December 17, the jab uptake remains sluggish in Indigenous communities
Authorities remain concerned, with only a quarter of First Nations people fully vaccinated in some areas, leaving "isolated Indigenous communities among the country's most vulnerable to an outbreak of the Delta strain".
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said if there isn't greater vaccine up-take, Indigenous communities could be facing more restrictions once borders reopen.
"That could mean localised restrictions on everything from how many people can gather in one place, to whether people can go to the movies, whether they can go to the shops, or the restaurants, all the way through to access and egress from community".
Last week, Crawford told parliament that the government held grave concerns about the "lower uptake in regional and remote areas".
"We're deeply concerned about the potential impact if the virus were to take hold among the chronically ill and elderly in these towns and communities," he said.
"Even more worrying is the fact that First Nations cohort aged 20 to 29 currently have the lowest vaccination rates of any in the state."
With teams of health workers going door to door in some Indigenous communities, Mr Crawford is imploring young people to get inoculated and help stop it from spreading to the most vulnerable.
"You need to do this to protect your elders, protect your old people, because they're the people that this virus is going to seek out," Crawford said, "it will find the unvaccinated people in houses and communities, and it will target them".
Critical that isolated Indigenous Australians don't get left behind in the vaccine roll out, Communities and Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch has called on community leaders and health care representatives to work together to preserve cultural legacy.
“It is so important that communities, and especially First Nations Elders who are the precious libraries of our history and the cultural compass of our future, are vaccinated," she said, “We cannot risk losing even a small proportion of this cultural leadership”.
“Vaccinations are so very important for all Queenslanders but particularly within Indigenous communities, so I have been meeting with community leaders to talk about the need to get vaccinated and to combat misinformation about the vaccine.”
- Minister Enoch
From the Tweed to Queensland's Far North, health authorities and community leaders are urging First Nations people to come forward and get vaccinated ahead of borders reopening, with the gap between Queensland’s overall vaccination rates and her Indigenous cohort, a world apart.
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