Young people in Australia are bearing a massive burden during the pandemic, and they’ve every right to be furious at the disgracefully low vaccine take-up rate in the 70+ age group.
In NSW, where a large outbreak has been raging in Sydney for weeks, it is truly mind-boggling that according to federal government figures just over a third (37.82 per cent) of people aged over 70 are fully vaccinated.
More concerning still, more than one-in-five people over 70 are yet to have even their first shot. This age group has had the opportunity to be vaccinated for longer than anyone else, as part of group 1b in the national vaccination program.
People aged 70+ are most vulnerable to death from the disease. Yet, in great numbers, this at-risk portion of the population haven’t taken the opportunity to protect themselves. It’s worth asking, why?
Vaccinating against Covid-19 is the only way for Australians to get their normal lives back, but as a nation we’re struggling.
News.com.au’s Our Best Shot campaign answers your questions about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
It’s fair to say the vaccine rollout has confused Australians. We’ll cut through the spin and give you clear information so you can make an informed decision.
First though, we must acknowledge that people of all ages are bearing a huge burden during the pandemic and it affects us all in different ways. But consider the impact of lockdowns on the livelihood a young hospitality worker, for example, compared to a 70+ retiree. The income of older people who rely on a pension or savings, doesn’t materially change when businesses close and lockdowns start. But for a young casual worker, income goes to zero, until perhaps, the government throws them a small bone.
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Young people, in great numbers, are doing the right thing and staying home, at enormous sacrifice, in order to protect their community and the lives of the older and more vulnerable. Many of them would have loved to have been vaccinated these past months, but haven’t been able to, as limited vaccines were being prioritised for the elderly, many of whom we’ve discovered, haven’t been taking advantage of their privileged place at the front of the queue. All young people ask is that their elders hold up their end of the bargain by getting vaccinated. Young people, when they do eventually return to work, will see their taxes paying off the pandemic welfare debt for years to come. This debt was acquired to protect the lives of the vulnerable, and rightly so. The least the parents and grandparents of these young people can do to help now, is to get the jab, if they’re able to do so, as a down payment on their borrowing from the community.
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Health leaders acknowledge the debacle we’re in and how frustrating it is that older people haven’t been vaccinated. Earlier this week, NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant said, “It is actually quite distressing, when I review the numbers, to see how few over even 60-year-olds and over 70-year-olds we have managed to reach.”
Today, with NSW case numbers rising above 200, she became even more direct. “We cannot live with the Delta strain with the current level of vaccination in our community,” she told Thursday’s media conference. “Please, if you are over 70, if you’re over 60, if you’re really any age, you need to take up the opportunity. But I’m drawing the point to the fact that the consequences for someone over 70 will inevitably be almost tragic. So please get vaccinated. Make an appointment.”