More than double the number of Sydneysiders under the age of 40 rolled up their sleeves during the Delta outbreak to take the AstraZeneca jab compared to young Victorians, new figures show.
And the reluctance of young Victorians to get the AZ jab may have prolonged the state’s world-breaking lockdown.
Statistics obtained by Daily Mail Australia from the Commonwealth Health Department show 819,527 AZ jabs went into the arms of young NSW residents between July 13 – when Delta hit Bondi – and October 10.
Over the same period, Victorians under the age of 40 took just 309,878 AZ jabs – with many preferring to wait for Pfizer.
Even now frightened Victorians continue to shun the jab that is most readily available to them, with hundreds of AZ jabs going in the bin everyday,
Sydney is enjoying its freedom while Melbourne is still in lockdown amid a reluctance to take the readily available AZ jab
Melbourne remains a ghost town as its residents race to meet vaccination targets
While NSW residents jumped back on AZ, Melburnians waited for Pfizer
Today, Sydney residents are again enjoying freedoms locked-down Melburnians hope to enjoy when they meet vaccination targets.
Just this week, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners reported Victorians continued to avoid AZ despite full knowledge that only vaccinations will set them free.
Geelong GP Dr Bernard Shiu told the RACGP he had stopped ordering the vaccine months ago and on Tuesday was forced to bin 100 doses.
‘It’s very sad to see,’ he said. ‘Tomorrow it will be 500 doses – 500 people could have been protected.’
Victoria’s adverse reaction to early warnings on AZ has seen NSW jab its way to freedom on the back of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The state’s reluctance to take AZ was stoked by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who sooked for more Pfizer rather than encourage under 40s to take the AZ that was ready to go into arms.
Just last month he whined about more Pfizer going to NSW than to Victorians.
‘I signed up to a national plan to vaccinate our nation, not a national plan to vaccinate Sydney,’ he complained.
It was April 8 when the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation ruined the AZ rollout when it recommended it be restricted to people over the age of 50.
ATAGI – the boffins that advise the Commonwealth Minister for Health on the National Immunisation Program and other immunisation issues – made the call after local and international reports of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome following AZ jabs.
Young people in NSW trounced Victoria with their uptake of AZ
While Victoria was ahead on AZ jabs to begin with in the under 40 bracket, warnings for the young saw the vaccine largely shunned
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews sooked for more Pfizer while shots of AZ went to waste
More than twice as many young Sydneysiders received AZ as their counterparts in Melbourne
Melbourne has become a desolate shadow of its former self during the longest lockdown on Planet Earth while Sydney is popping champagne
A sight for sore Melburnian eyes: Sydneysiders enjoy a beer at the pub after being let out of lockdown
Australia had secured 53.8 million doses of AZ in February, of which 50 million were to be made locally in Melbourne.
The rollout officially kicked-off on February 22, with jabs going into arms in a flurry of media attention in March.
The news AZ could cause blood clots in young Australians rightfully caused concerns across the country, even though The New England Journal of Medicine stated it was so uncommon that the benefits of the vaccine still outweighed its risks.
By March 22 the European Medicines Agency had assembled 86 reports of people who had experienced blood clots in the brain or abdomen within two weeks of receiving a dose of the UK manufactured AZ.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young set back take up of AZ in her state too
Sceptical Australians sat back and waited for something better.
I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got COVID, probably wouldn’t die.
AZ shots waiting to go into Australian arms had to be sent abroad or stockpiled.
Victorians, more than anyone, had been keen to get vaccinated to ensure the end of hard lockdowns.
On June 17, ATAGI changed its advice again and warned no-one under 60 ought to seek out AZ.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged young Australians to get the AZ jab, but Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young fueled the fear against it.
‘We have had very few deaths due to Covid-19 in Australia in people under the age of 50 and wouldn’t it be terrible that our first 18-year-old in Queensland who dies related to this pandemic, died because of the vaccine,’ she said on June 30.
But things were about to change in Sydney, which had been largely spared from the Covid-19 hell of its fellow Australians south of the border.
On July 13 the dreaded Delta variant broke loose via a Bondi-based air crew limo driver, which sparked a chain of events that would see the entire state locked down for four months.
Sydney re-opened on October 11. Melbourne remains shut while AZ shots go in the bin
Shoppers line up to buy fancy items in Sydney after reopening on October 11
PRIME MINISTER SAYS SORRY FOR VACCINE ROLLOUT
On July 22, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was ‘sorry’ for his government’s initial roll out the AZ vaccine earlier in the year.
‘I’m certainly sorry that we haven’t been able to achieve the marks that we had hoped for at the beginning of this year. Of course I am,’ Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison acknowledged the challenges with the rollout program, saying it was two months behind schedule.
The Prime Minister said that changed advice from ATAGI had caused vaccine hesitancy and delayed the rollout.
‘The AstraZeneca vaccine is approved by the TGA for people above the age of 18, but there is an informed consent process,’ he said at the time.
Suddenly the risks associated with getting an AZ jab were an acceptable risk, ATAGI advised.
On July 23 the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, labelled the uptake of AZ by Sydneysiders a ‘shocker’.
A vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park had just jabbed 9,000 Pfizer vaccines and only 50 AZ.
‘I think that’s obviously come off the back of advice that came out of ATAGI, and also then translated by the federal government,’ Mr Hazzard said.
‘I just think we need to take a step back and say … most of us can’t afford the luxury of sitting back and saying I don’t want to have the vaccine that has actually been taken by almost every country in the world and kept other countries safe.’
On the day Bondi went into lockdown, a little over 59,000 AZ jabs had gone into the arms of young NSW residents.
Young Victorians had done marginally better, taking just over 70,000 AZ jabs after two hard lockdowns already just this year.
They had copped a serve by acting-Premier James Merlino in May for failing to get jabbed fast enough, even though the IT systems that would have allowed those jabs had not existed and then failed.
Premier Daniel Andrews later preened with confidence as he watched Sydney struggle to contain the Covid spread.
But like before, it soon crossed into Victoria and what Mr Andrews said would be a ‘snap’ five-day lockdown is still going today.
The rollout of AZ was doomed after early advice warned against younger people taking it. Statistics show jabs for people aged under 40
When lockdown began in Sydney, AZ jabs climbed while Melburnians waited for Pfizer. Statistics show jabs for people aged under 40
While Mr Andrews chased Covid-zero, former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made it clear they would jab their way out of lockdown.
By August, NSW hospitals were filling as thousands of people became infected with Covid-19.
Cases had emerged in Queensland and elsewhere as millions of unused doses of AZ sat in GP surgeries and vaccination clinics.
Victorians had been there before having watched hundreds of elderly citizens die last year.
While history is yet to decide how Ms Berejiklian will feature, the people of NSW lined up to be jabbed.
The University of Sydney urged Sydneysiders to get whatever jab they could get their hands on.
‘AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine which has already saved millions of lives and will save many more,’ it stated in August.
NSW ordered took on 3.6 million doses of AZ since the July lockdown in an effort to jab its way out.
In Victoria, just 1.4 million were delivered – most of which would end up in storage, or worse.
In Sydney shoppers line up to blow money at the shops. Something Melburnians still cannot do
In recent weeks the Victorian premier has attempted to correct past mistakes and has begged his people to get AZ.
‘Don’t wait for something that hasn’t arrived yet. Please don’t wait and defer for something that may not happen. There may be an international global supply chain problem. There may be all sorts of variables. AstraZeneca is available now,’ he said on September 20.
On Thursday, Mr Andrews said Victoria would reopen regardless of case numbers from next week when the state is expected to meet its key 70 per cent target.
‘We have fundamentally, a really important agreement with the Victorian community,’ he said.
‘You get vaccinated and we open up. I do what I say, and that’s why we’re going to be opening up, because people have got vaccinated in record numbers.’