Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Vaccination by area – Rural Kiwis lagging behind

Large swathes of New Zealand’s rural populations are less protected from the virus than their urban counterparts, according to new vaccination data.

The Ministry of Health today released national first and second dose data, broken down by suburb. It has also provided the same data for Māori and Pasifika populations.

It offers a stark insight into how vaccinations levels differ between urban and rural areas, and the work still required to fully vaccinated the nation.

Given time limitations, the New Zealand Herald has presented both first and second dose data, with a focus on full vaccination levels. Further analysis will be done in the coming days.

The data shows the vast majority of the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) suburbs less than 50 per cent fully vaccinated.

Many suburbs in urban centres are at least 50 per cent fully vaccinated, with varying levels across different areas.

There is a large variance in the levels of those suburbs below 50 per cent fully vaccinated, some reaching as low as 21 and 22 per cent in Rangataiki and Galatea respectively.

There are pockets of progress in rural areas. About 55 per cent of North Cape residents are fully vaccinated, in contrast to much of Te Tai Tokerau’s (Northland) suburbs, which fall below the 50 per cent threshold.

Cape Runaway – east of Whakatāne – is above 60 per cent, as is Frasertown-Ruakituri and Whakaki, near Wairoa on the East Coast.

Significant differences also exist in Auckland. Many central Auckland suburbs are above either 50-60 per cent fully vaccinated, including Herne Bay, Parnell, Newmarket and Grafton.

Some central suburbs are still just below the 50 per cent threshold -Morningside (48 per cent), Kingsland (46 per cent) and Eden Park (49 per cent).

Large areas of South Auckland – the centre of the current Delta outbreak – remain under 50 per cent fully vaccinated including Māngere, Favona, Auckland Airport, Ōtara, Weymouth, Clendon and Wiri.

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Apart from Ōtara, all these suburbs had at least 40 per cent of their residents fully vaccinated.

Ormiston East stood out from the rest with 74 per cent of its residents double-dosed, while Papatoetoe Central, East and South all recording above 60 per cent.

The Ōtāhuhu and Mt Wellington Industrial areas showed extremely high levels of full vaccination, but also had much lower populations.

Interestingly, the majority of Wellington suburbs were below the 50 per cent mark, with the exception of Oriental Bay (60 per cent), Pipitea-Kaiwharawhara (53 per cent), Seatoun (54 per cent) among others.

The story in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) was very similar to the North Island with many suburbs in rural areas recording lower vaccination levels when compared with their urban brethren.

In central parts of the island, it appeared more suburbs were below 40 per cent fully vaccinated compared with the North Island, including the likes of Ashburton Lakes, Mackenzie Lakes, Waitaha and Okuku.

However, there did appear to be more variability in certain pockets. Haast had more than 70 per cent (104 people) with two doses, while neighbouring Westland Glaciers-Bruce Bay had almost reached 58 per cent.

Earnscleugh near Alexandra and Queenstown’s Lake Hayes were among the few suburbs which had reached more than 70 per cent.

In Christchurch, only Tower Junction had reached more than 70 per cent, but had a very small population by contrast – that figure consisting of just 127 people.

In accordance with the Herald’s Top Town analysis of vaccination levels by territorial authority, many Dunedin suburbs were above 60 per cent.

More than 60 per cent of Kaikōura residents, the original leaders the Top Town ladder, were fully vaccinated – as were more than half of Kaikōura Ranges residents.

After a quick scan of the data, modeller Professor Shaun Hendy said it was no surprise urban areas had outstripped rural counterparts.

“Accessibility must be a big part of this story,” he noted.

“If you’re in a urban area, it’s just so much easier to access a location to get vaccinated.”

However, he did highlight some rural areas where good vaccination levels were encouraging.

Looking to Auckland, Hendy suspected age of residents could have influenced the progress of some suburbs.

“Some of these patterns might be driven by age and the length of time they’ve had to get vaccinated.”

With many areas in South Auckland below the 50 per cent threshold, Hendy reinforced the importance of getting those residents in for their second dose.

“There’s some good and some bad [in South Auckland]. We definitely need to lift rates down there, they’re going to be in the firing line for the next few weeks or months.”

Hendy said it would be useful to further dissect the data, as long as the privacy of Kiwis was maintained.

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