Vaccinations around the world: Where does Auckland stand?

Auckland can take its place among the most vaccinated centres in the world, a Herald analysis shows, as the city celebrates hitting a 90 per cent double-jab milestone.

But experts warn that much work is needed to bring up coverage rates among some of the region’s most vulnerable communitiesas well as across the rest of the country.

Although the Auckland DHB area has reached a 90 per cent coverage rate of eligible people, only 77 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated when children under 12 are included. Counties Manukau double-dose rates for its total population are still sitting at about 70 per cent.

Wellington City, which is part of Capital and Coast DHB, also crossed 90 per cent double-vaccinated among eligible people this week. This translates to fully vaccinating79 per cent of its total population when children under 12 are included.

When the Herald looked at a sample of 30 major cities around the world, Auckland’s total vaccination rate was comparably high. The age of eligibility varies from 3+ in parts of China to 18+, so all vaccination rates are based on total population.

Per whole population, Auckland now has higher coverage level than centres such as London, New York City, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and Los Angelesand trails Paris, Madrid and Seoul by several percentage points.

It is still well behind global standouts like Singapore (93 per cent full vaccination), Canberra (82 per cent), Hanoi (85 per cent) and Portuguese capital Lisbon (84 per cent).

Singapore was the first country in Asia to start its vaccination campaign, and began a new strategy of attempting to live with the virus when double-dose coverage reached three-quarters of the population.

The city-state has been offering boosters amid soaring daily case rates – and this month opted to stop offering free Covid-19 treatment to anyone “unvaccinated by choice”.

This month, ACT also became the first Australian state or territory to fully vaccinate 95 per cent of its eligible population – something experts have put down to its small size, a well-run programme and good access to vaccines.

Coverage in Hanoi – where a concerted vaccination push was made to lift the city’s Delta lockdown – stood in sharp contrast to that of all of Vietnam, where just a third of the population is double-jabbed.

Portugal’s world-leading, depoliticised programme, headed up by former submarine commander Vice-Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, has achieved an eligible vaccination rate of nearly 100 per cent.

Experts told the Herald that Auckland’s coverage was particularly impressive, given New Zealand began its general vaccine rollout much later than other countries.

“It’s a credit to health workers – especially those who’ve really done community engagement, and got out and offered vaccinations to people through mobile approaches,” Otago University epidemiologist Professor Nick Wilson said.

“It was also a good idea to hold vaccination events with entertainment and free food – all of that helped Auckland avoid a situation seen in other OECD countries where percentages plateaued in the 60s and 70s.”

Wilson and colleagues remained eager to see higher levels of full coverage among Māori and Pacific people in Auckland city (currently 75 per cent and 85 per cent of eligible people respectively) as well as nationally (62 per cent and 77 per cent of eligible people respectively).

He expected the drive would become more difficult as it reached more vaccine-hesitant elements of society.

“There’ll be a few per cent who have very strong viewsbut there will still be many people who can be reached, particularly in rural areas where there have been significant access problems.”

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner said Auckland, especially, should keep pushing as hard as it could past 90 per cent.

“It’s great we’ve got this high and I’m really proud of us. But anything more we can do is still worth trying for and there’s no reason to stop.”

She agreed a more “mixed” approach would be required as the drive continued into the 90s.

In one recent paper, a group of researchers suggested strategies ranging from cash incentives to doing more to combat online misinformation.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland’s comparative status was a testament to the “incredible work” of residents to roll up their sleeves to protect themselves, their families, and the community.

“New Zealand has had one of the most effective Covid-19 responses in the world, with significantly lower cases, hospitalisation and deaths than most other countries,” he said.

But with the highly transmissible Delta variant now spreading in the community, it was critical that anyone yet to be vaccinated does so as soon as possible, he said.

“Vaccination is the single best tool we have to protect ourselves from the virus and is key to ensuring we can enjoy a great Kiwi summer and Christmas break.”

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