OPEN THREAD: What is the true number of unvaxxed Aussies?
My reporting yesterday on the Australian Government’s estimate of remaining unvaccinated adults (Covid vax, specifically) has generated a lot of discussion on social media about whether the figures are accurate.
“An estimated 302,000 (1.5%) of Australian adults remain unvaccinated, although this number may be closer to half a million according to data aggregator site Covidlive.com.au.”
I want to hear your thoughts - I’ve opened this thread to all subscribers (both free and paid).
On X and Instagram, most commenters think the numbers are fudged or that they’re artificially high due to fake vaccination records. I’m interested if anyone has anecdotes of large numbers of people getting away with fake entries into the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)? Obviously this is a sensitive topic, so you may not be able to state it outright in the comments.
Some context from yesterday’s footnotes:
The number of unvaccinated Australians is not a precise figure, as the report deducts the number of individuals with recorded vaccinations in the AIR from an Estimated Resident Population (ERP) which is extrapolated 2021 census figures, and updated quarterly.
The federal DOH numbers vary from the numbers on Covidlive.com.au which is an aggregator site that pulls data from multiple sources including state and territory databases. By Covidlive’s estimation, there are slightly fewer in the vaccinated groups and a couple of hundred thousand more (total 527,700) in the never-vaccinated group.
The DOH table (on page 6 of this document) also contains confusing anomalies, wherein the numbers in the state and territory row cells do not add up to the given totals in the top (National) row. When I queried this, the DOH advised that the variance is due to rounding of state figures, and that the totals given in the top row are definitely correct. Accordingly, I have reported the DOH official figures with the caveat that I’m not convinced they’re completely accurate.
And a few other points:
To the best of my knowledge, when a person gets vaccinated, it gets uploaded into the AIR. Unlike in other parts of the world, and in certain hospital databases, the AIR counts a person as vaccinated as soon as the dose administration is uploaded.
Personally, I’m not convinced that serious data fixing is occuring at scale, although Arkmedic has made a case for it in NSW. I wouldn’t rule it out.
However, even without deliberate data fixing, there is plenty of evidence of sloppy data management and obfuscation. For example: chopping and changing reporting parameters (switching age brackets, or switching from number of doses administered to time since last dose); not linking data across federal and state/territory databases; reporting incomplete datasets; dumping separate groups into the same category (reporting never vaccinated + unknown vaccination status under the heading ‘Unvaccinated’) and so on.
One of the things to watch when comparing to previously quoted government figures is the age cohort referenced. When they were trying to drive vax rates up they lowered the age cohort to 16 and then 12, reporting that we had only X% coverage but need to get it up to Y%. Whereas current federal government figures cut the cohort off at 18+. If you lowered the age cut-off to 16 or 12, the 'up to date' group would appear smaller and the 'never vaxxed' group would be larger.
Are there really fewer than half a million unvaccinated Aussie adults? Tell me what you think in the comments…
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