As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia continues to dominate headlines, and experts tout vaccinations as the key to getting life back to normal, we’ve pulled the daily vaccination numbers to see if we could identify some trends.
First of all, it seems like Monday records the lowest vaccine administrations. So, does that mean I should go get vaccinated on a Monday to avoid queues?
Sorry, but no. There are two reasons why Mondays seem lower than even Sundays.
- Numbers represent the 24-hour period prior to when they are reported. That means the Monday numbers aren’t the total number of people vaccinated on that day, but the number reported on Monday and thus the total doses administered the day before – that is, Sunday.
- Fewer people work on Sunday, so the volume of jabbers to jabbees isn’t a whole lot different to other days – there are fewer doctors and therefore fewer bookings available. It will be interesting to see if this changes as pharmacies begin administering the vaccine.
Vaccinations that would have occurred from Monday to Friday (but announced on Tuesday to Saturday) were fairly consistent, which seems to imply there isn’t really a best weekday to get vaccinated.
Bear in mind that this includes all states and territories, and the bulk of the numbers actually come from Victoria and New South Wales.
There was a jump in vaccinations around the beginning of June, which coincides with the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Victoria. The ongoing COVID-19 situation on the east coast hasn’t really had a lull since early June, but there also didn’t appear to be a particularly large leap in vaccination numbers when movement restrictions were introduced in NSW on 22 June.
Interestingly, there was a drop of 100,000 in the number of vaccinations in the week following the announcement that people aged between 40 and 50 were allowed to get a jab without a pre-existing condition, but a 100,000 increase in vaccinations after legal restrictions were removed for everyone.
Again, these numbers represent the whole of Australia, so it is possible that some of the drop was caused by the redistribution of vaccines since vaccination rates began to increase again after 27 June.
Despite these variations, I was surprised that there didn’t appear to be a specifically exponential growth in vaccination numbers overall. Looking at the cumulative number of vaccinations, the increase still seemed fairly gradual.
Compared to other countries, the rate of growth in Australia is a lot slower. The UK and the US had markedly higher vaccination rates to begin with, adjusted for population size, and the exponential growth in daily vaccinations between February and April was clear.
The chart shows that daily vaccination rates dropped in the UK and US after April and June respectively, whereas Australia’s daily rates kept climbing. This is most likely because large portions of the UK and US populations had received two vaccine doses by that time. Australia is yet to reach that point, but we will likely see a similar pattern once more than half of the population is vaccinated.
Australia’s vaccines have been rolled out in phases to ensure vulnerable members of the population gets the first doses. So, lets break down some of those demographics.
Starting at the top, people aged 70 and above have the highest percentage of vaccine doses per population group. That makes sense, because they should have received the doses first. There are close to three million people in this age group, and 75% of them have received at least one dose, while 30% have received two.
Unsurprisingly, people aged between 16 and 50 are the largest population demographic, but also represent the lowest percentage of vaccinated individuals.
Most of the people aged under 40 who have been vaccinated have received two vaccines, unlike people aged between 40 and 60. That’s because those young people were either immunocompromised or healthcare workers, and were prioritised in the first stages of the rollout.
Excluding children, Australia has about 20 million people who need to be vaccinated. Each person needs two doses, so the vaccine target is 40 million doses. Currently, a little over 10 million doses have been administered.
Some predictions suggest that vaccination goals could be reached by the end of the year. This would require the weekly vaccination numbers to increase. If they increase at the same rate as now, those goals could theoretically be reached by early December.
However, official vaccine allocations are predicted to be sufficient for weekly doses (consisting of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, which is not yet approved for use in Australia) to increase to well over one million. While this is theoretically the total number of weekly doses the nation might have, it doesn’t account for other barriers that could slow the rollout.
On the other hand, if we steadily continue at around 800,000 vaccinations per week, 40 million doses could be administered as early as… late April 2022.
You can watch the vaccine rollout live to see how we are tracking.
Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.
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