Australian official “very concerned” about slowing booster uptake amid COVID-19 winter wave

Australian authorities have revealed concerns over third COVID-19 vaccine dose rates as the country continues to battle against the wave of Omicron sub-variant infections in winter.

According to the latest data, about 14.1 million Australians, or 71.4 percent of the eligible population, had received at least three vaccine doses as of Friday.

The figure represents an increase of 2.5 percent from the about 13.74 million people who had received three vaccine doses as of June 5.

The slowing increase in the booster vaccine rate comes despite federal, state and territory governments running campaigns encouraging uptake amid Australia’s winter wave of COVID-19 infections.

“We got the third booster dose flights have flatlined, which is something I’m very concerned about,” Mark Butler, the minister for health, recently told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“There are still five million people who are more than six months since having their second dose, and I really encourage those people to go out and get it.”

On Saturday, Australia reported more than 25,000 new cases and more than 80 deaths.

There were 4,613 cases being treated in Australian hospitals on Friday, including 155 in intensive care.

Anne Ruston, the Opposition Coalition’s health spokesperson, described the government’s response to the winter wave as “worrying.”

“They have ended a range of supports that have helped Australians through the pandemic and have been forced to backflip on the pandemic leave disaster payment,” she told the Australian Associated Press.

“With no explanation and no apparent advice or modeling to support their decisions, 70 COVID-19 related telehealth items, free rapid tests for concession card holders and aged care homes, and Operation COVID Shield have all ended.”