A new perspective on Melbourne’s chances of full vaccination.

Some interesting stats from THE AGE today: The five Victorian local government areas with the lowest first dose vaccination rates are Melbourne (68.3), Yarra (72.5), Darebin (73.5), Port Phillip (74.5) and Moreland (75.2), according to data released by the federal government this week.

The article cites Dr Daryl Cheng, the medical lead at the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre, who said, “access, low education, casual work and language barriers were behind earlier low vaccine rates in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.” This was recognised as a major problem to Melbourne emerging from lockdown and government and community leaders mobilised significant resources to deal with the problem with considerable success.

Now a new and apparently more serious and intractable problem has emerged

A large cohort in the inner-city suburbs, labelled “Byron Bay-type lifestylists” by Yarra councillor Steve Jolly, is resisting vaccination.

Byron Bay-type lifestylists in Brunswick? Photo Byron CHRIS HOPKINS

Dr Daryl Cheng, the medical lead at the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre, said, “There are clusters of people who have an alternative belief system or are into alternative therapies, which may mean they have a very different approach to vaccination than the general population, we also see, vaccine hesitancy in the very well-educated [and] health literate.

Katie Attwell, a vaccination social scientist and policy expert from the University of Western Australia, said “We know Brunswick was the site of a measles outbreak a few years ago, so if we’re seeing now that that’s a lower uptake rate of COVID-19 vaccination that doesn’t surprise me.”

In other words, “Just the normal suspects.”

“Families from wealthier backgrounds that often refused or delayed vaccines for their children were hard to motivate with incentives or “no jab, no play” penalties as they could afford alternative care and didn’t need government payments.

This identifies a group that is likely to be highly intransigent and resistant to the techniques that worked in the northern and eastern suburbs.

The likely impact of this group’s behaviour on Victoria’s chances of reaching 80% vaccination will only remain to be seen. But it won’t be good.

It also means that it is likely that the inner city suburbs particularly, those in Yarra, will remain with stubbornly low vaccination rates.

Low vaccination rates will play out in our primary schools where children will take the virus home to their unvaccinated parents. Infected children will close classrooms and schools.

The difficulty with people who understand, or think they understand, the concept of herd immunity and choose to rely on it, is that herd immunity requires the herd become immune.

If enough members of the herd rely on other people to become immune, then a critical point is reached where the theory doesn’t work.

With first dose rates at around 65% in some affluent inner-city suburbs, things aren’t looking great

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