Achieving COVID-19 vaccination equity in South Eastern Metropolitan Victoria, Australia
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Monash Health, Clayton, Australia
Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Victorian Department of Health, Melbourne, Australia
Monash Health, Victoria, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A353
Background: This study aimed to describe COVID-19 vaccination uptake across Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Victoria using the South East Public Health Unit (SEPHU) catchment as a case study, and to explore key policy and implementation strategies that contributed to equitable uptake. There were significant socioeconomic disparities between LGAs within the SEPHU catchment, ranging from the most advantaged, Bayside, to the most disadvantaged, Greater Dandenong, where over 60% of the population were born overseas and spoke a language other than English. Methods: Using an ecological study design, we compared trends in COVID-19 vaccination first and second dose uptake in Victoria and reviewed key social and public health measures used in Victoria’s and SEPHU’s vaccination program rollout from 1st January to 31st December 2021. Results: By July 2021, half of the adult population in Bayside, had received their first vaccination dose compared to only a quarter in Greater Dandenong. However, by 31st December 2021, this geographical variation was narrowed to 1.3% for first dose (95.6% in Bayside and 94.3% in Greater Dandenong) and 2.5% for second dose (94.9% in Bayside and 92.4% in Greater Dandenong), a trend that was also observed broadly across Victoria. Key Victorian policy changes from September 2021 included vaccination mandates for essential workers and later for staff and patrons in hospitality and entertainment venues. Key engagement and vaccination strategies employed by SEPHU included strong engagement and co-designing programs with community leaders, mass vaccination centres, community outreach clinics, a mobile vaccination bus, and a highly visible walk-in vaccination pop-up at a shopping centre. Conclusions: There were multiple policy and implementation factors contributing to the successful narrowing of COVID-19 vaccination inequities in Victoria. Deeper causal analysis is needed to investigate the individual impacts of these factors which can inform strategies to achieve similar success in future mass vaccination programs.