Local first dose COVID vaccination rates have reached over 85 percent. Second dose rates are over 60 percent. Across the state, it is expected full vaccination rates will reach the 80 percent level needed to start lifting restrictions by early November.

Covid vax

Local vaccination rates are in the middle of the pack for Victoria. The highest rural rates are in the Swan Hill area and the highest metropolitan levels are in the more affluent suburbs. Rates are still comparatively low in lower income areas.

But there will be a difficult three weeks ahead until the 80 percent mark is reached in November. COVID rates in Victoria – including in the regions – are now at record levels and hospitalisations and deaths are increasing.

Almost everyone who is getting sick is unvaccinated. Full vaccination rates have to be higher to flatten the curve.

Central Rural Health, the Springs Medical Centre and the Council continue to push to get vaccination rates up. The higher they are the less likely it is there will be transmission and the safer the community will be.

You are much less likely to catch COVID and pass it on if you are fully vaccinated and you are 10 times less likely to be hospitalised or die if you do catch it.

Vaccination is the price for starting a COVID normal life in month or so.

Already you need to be vaccinated to get a work permit while restrictions are in place. In early November there are many activities you will not be able to take part in if you are not vaccinated including travel, entertainment, community activities, shopping and education.

Despite the current surge in cases, Victoria has kept its hospitalisation and death rate at amongst the lowest in the World, but at the cost of one of the longest periods of restriction. Many countries with fewer restrictions had much higher death rates and worse economic outcomes.

Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia have managed to keep COVID out with very tight border restrictions.

Early on Victoria was caught by leakage out of quarantine into poorly prepared residential aged care facilities. That led to high death rates and the first long lockdown.

More recently, the problem has been  border crossings from New South Wales by people with the much more infectious Delta variant. It is now clear, despite testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, Delta is impossible to control with current restrictions.

As a result we now have to learn to live with COVID. That means it will be almost impossible to avoid contact with people who have COVID as restrictions lift.

Fortunately, high vaccination rates dramatically reduce the risk when that happens and most people are now willing to balance the risks of COVID with a more normal life once vaccination rates are high.

Many businesses and individuals are looking forward to a COVID normal life beginning in November. But not without some anxiety about how the near future will play out.