COVID-19: How Australia is beating America in vaccination rates despite initially slow rollout?

Australia is on track to catch up to the United States’ Covid-19 vaccination rate, despite an initially slow rollout – with NSW already taking the lead.

While Americans have been given free and ample vaccines for most of the year, the jab program Down Under has been plagued with delivery delays and complications.

But despite the disparity, the two countries’ vaccine progress is pretty much even — about 63.5 percent of Americans have received one dose compared to about 62 percent of Australians.

A chart compiled by Our World in Data shows that Aussies are making progress after receiving much-needed Pfizer shipments over the past few months — and are now poised to top the US’s first jab pace this week.

Australia is close to surpassing the United States’ first vaccination rate after a shaky start to the vaccine program Down Under (pictured, health workers administer shots at a vaccine clinic in Sydney)

A chart from Our World in Data shows Australia (in red) racing to catch up with United States vaccination rates, despite – US leads two months

A chart from Our World in Data shows Australia (in red) racing to catch up with the United States’ vaccination rate, despite the US having a two-month lead

However, it may take a little longer to surpass the double dose in the United States, which stands at 54.6 percent against Australia’s 41 percent.

All Americans have had free access to vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna since April, and those eligible in earlier phases rolled up their sleeves as early as December.

But while vaccination efforts have ramped up in Australia, those in the US have begun to level off — from a 61 percent initial dose to just 63 percent between September 1 and 26.

Over the same period, the number of one-time shots in Australia climbed from 48 percent to 62 percent, as residents of incarcerated Victoria and NSW flocked to hubs in an effort to accelerate needle-stick targets.

The efforts of the two states have been vital to aid the country’s rollout in catching up with other countries – with NSW already ahead of the US on both single and double-dose digits.

As of Tuesday, 86.2 percent of NSW residents have received one shot of a Covid vaccine and 61.7 percent have been fully vaccinated.

In general, the number of shots is higher among groups of adults – the primary targets of countries’ vaccine programs – but the different age classifications between the US and Australia make the rollout difficult to compare.

In the United States, 77.1 percent of people over 18 have received one dose, while 66.6 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Meanwhile, in Australia, which reports figures among those aged 16 and over, the single-shot percentage is at 76 percent, while 52.57 have received both doses.

Its impressive gains have seen Australia – which was placed 102nd in the world in April for vaccine rollouts – quickly climb the ranks, but it still ranks at the bottom of 38 OCED countries (sitting 28) ahead of the percentage of residents with first doses.

Vaccination rates in the US have fallen in the past month, by just 2 percent from September 1 to 26 (Pictured, health workers put a Covid patient on a ventilator at a California hospital)

Vaccination rates in the US have fallen in the past month, by just 2 percent from September 1 to 26 (Pictured, health workers put a Covid patient on a ventilator at a California hospital)

The astonishing comparison comes as it was announced that Australia is on track to reach the crucial milestone of 80 percent vaccination coverage against coronavirus in mid-November and could reach 90 percent just weeks after.

Vaccine rollout coordinator John Frewen revealed the latest government forecasts for people aged 16 and older during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

“The variable in there is about whether people keep coming forward, so I’m offering these estimates in the spirit of ‘the numbers can change,'” he said.

The end of October is taking shape as it is likely that 70 percent of the double dose will be reached nationwide, before 80 percent is reached around mid-November.

Lieutenant General Frewen said it would be possible to hit 90 percent in late November or early December if people continued to roll up their sleeves.

“That’s at best,” he said.

Sealed states and territories are on track to meet targets ahead of Covid-free jurisdictions – Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

A chart shows how countries compare to Covid vaccination rates, with Portugal and the United Emirates leading the way in the world

A chart shows how countries compare to Covid vaccination rates, with Portugal and the United Emirates leading the way in the world

NSW is expected to reach 70 percent in a week, 80 percent in mid-to-late October and 90 percent in the first two weeks of November.

Victoria is expected to meet targets in line with national projections.

The ACT could reach 70 percent in a fortnight, 80 percent by mid-late October, and possibly 90 percent by early November.

A nationwide Essential poll of 1,094 people found that seven percent would never agree to vaccination, while 10 percent planned but had not yet booked.

Nine percent said they booked a first dose.

All states and territories have pledged to relax restrictions when 70 and 80 percent double dose coverage is achieved, both nationally and in all jurisdictions.

Victoria registered 867 new cases and four deaths on Tuesday, while NSW reported 863 infections and seven fatalities.

There were 13 new infections in the ACT.

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