The vaccination rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remains significantly lower than the broader population, despite most Indigenous people being eligible for COVID-19 jabs since the beginning of May.
There have been about 90 cases of COVID-19 reported among Indigenous people in the ACT, with health authorities seeking to increase outreach and communication efforts to boost the vaccination rate, including pop-up vaccination clinics.
Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith on Friday said 74.4 per cent of Indigenous Canberrans had at least one dose of a vaccine, behind 97 per cent of Canberrans who have received at least one dose.
Just 51.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination, well behind the 70.98 per cent of Canberrans aged 16 and above who have received both doses.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the vaccination rates among holder Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Canberra were higher, but the rates were still not as high as health authorities wanted.
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"The overall number reflects in part the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community skews younger than the broader population, so those lower rates in the younger population will have more of an impact on the overall population rate, but it also reflects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don't necessarily have as a high level of trust in government and in mainstream health services," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The health minister said public health officials were also working to reach Canberrans in their early 20s, the cohort which now has the lowest rate of first-dose vaccination in the territory. Younger cohorts, including people aged 12 to 19, have overtaken 20- to 24-year-olds in vaccine take-up.
The 20-24 cohort is now the only group in the ACT with a first-dose vaccination rate below 80 per cent. Every cohort aged 35 and above has first-dose vaccination coverage about 95 per cent.
Ms Stephen-Smith said work was under way to understand how to reach young people who may not be accessing official sources of information about the vaccination program and its benefits, with a potential focus on young men.
"How do we do more pop-up access, more access to vaccination clinics that don't require an appointment. That's exactly the kind of thing we're thinking about. How do we do more walk-in capacity?" she said.
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