THE stated aim by the Bass Coast Shire Council, under its #Vax4Bass campaign, to be the first LGA in Victoria to achieve 80 per cent ‘double dose’, appears to be gaining some traction.

According to the Australian Government’s ‘Operation COVID Shield’ details, Bass Coast is leading Gippsland first dose race, at 68.2 per cent, for its over 15 population of 30,332.

South Gippsland residents are dragging the chain at the moment with only 37.2% of the population having received both doses by August 27.

So, while East Gippsland leads the region for double doses at 43.9 per cent, the number shows that Bass Coast is on track to take over the leading position in Gippsland within weeks.

But the shire does have some way to go before it leads the state with Queenscliffe hitting 86.9% first dose, and 64% double dose, Surf Coast 73% (one dose), 48.3% (second dose), Southern Grampians 71% & 41.7% and the tiny Buloke Shire 71.6% & 48.4%.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari, has encouraged members of the community, especially young people now eligible for the vaccine, to get on board with the campaign and do everything they can to get the jab.

“I received my second COVID vaccination last week, and joined the 28.4 per cent of people in Gippsland that have received both their shots. I strongly believe that vaccination is our way out of this health crisis and is also one of the best ways to fast-track the return of tourists to the Bass Coast region, who are vital to our economy,” Cr Tessari said in his recent Mayor’s Message.

“Bass Coast Shire has announced that it has set itself the ambitious goal to become the first region in Victoria to achieve an 80 per cent COVID vaccination rate, with our #Vax4Bass campaign. We want to get to that rate as fast as possible so we can return to the lifestyle we love and help our businesses and economy recover.

“We hope that this campaign can help show people a future beyond COVID. If you are eligible for a vaccine, please consider booking in for yours today.”

There are several ways for locals, 12 years of age and older, to get vaccinated now; at the areas’ community vaccination centres, at your local GP and also at a number of participating pharmacies in the area.

Those wishing to make an appointment should go to the vaccination portal at: https://portal.cvms.vic.gov.au/

Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said the mass vaccination centres at Wonthaggi and Cowes, open 7-days-a-week, had managed a high of 500 vaccinations in one day last week.

“We’re continuing to offer a walk-in opportunity for aged care staff, and we are generally able to accommodate walk-ups for those getting AstraZeneca but only if we haven’t got queues of people waiting,” Ms Child said.

“We’re hoping to ramp it up as supply increases over the next week.”

Ms Child said there were a lot more young people, 16 and above particularly, who were motivated now to get the jab.

“As is their style, young people rock up and expect to get in, but you’ve got to book. If there’s no line, we’ll try to get them in but get online, and persevere, you will get through.”

Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is pleased ATAGI has opened up vaccinations to those aged between 12 and 15.

“I would encourage all parents from September 13 to visit the eligibility checker and book your child in for their vaccination, so we can ensure all Australians are protected from COVID-19.”

He said the age group between 12 and 15 comprises of approximately 1.2 million children.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the decision was based on the final advice of ATAGI and approval by the TGA. In their advice to Government, ATAGI concludes that the severity of COVID-19 is less in adolescents compared with adults.

Locally, here are our vaccination rates as on August 27, 2021:

* Bass Coast 68.2% (1 dose), 40.9% (2 doses) 30,332 (+15 population)

* Baw Baw 56.1%, 34.3%, 42,887

* Cardinia 50.1%, 28.2%, 86,129

* East Gippsland 66.5%, 43.9%, 39,596

* Latrobe 51.1%, 32.7%, 61,811

* South Gippsland 62.6%, 37,2%, 24,475

* Wellington 60.6%, 39.2%, 36,486.

Bass Coast should be ahead of the curve in Victoria for vaccinations with 50.1% of the population 50 years of age and over, as against the rest of Victoria with 33.4% 50 and over.

South Gippsland has 46.7% of the population aged 50 and over, and therefore has had a larger group able to get the vaccine for longer.