Amid warnings of a looming Covid wave, how do Australia’s vaccination rates stack up?

Government health officials are warning of a new wave of Covid cases, predicting transmission will increase in coming weeks.

So what does the latest data show for the rollout of vaccinations in Australia, and how do we compare with other countries?

Just over half of eligible Australians have had a third Covid vaccine dose, and just over 41% have had a fourth, according to the latest data. But these rates have flatlined even as Australia has consistently reported more than 30,000 Covid cases, 80 deaths, and over 1,300 people in hospital each week.

The rollout for third and fourth vaccines doses (also known as boosters) for many of Australia’s peers have seen similar surges followed by stagnation. Many countries have either stopped reporting on vaccines, or now report intermittently, making it hard to get a clear picture.

Australia saw a large leap in the booster rate when eligibility was expanded in December and January, and another one in early July when fourth doses were made available to over 30s.

More than 7 million people were estimated to be newly eligible when the fourth dose rollout began, but since 1 July, just 3m fourth doses have been administered in Australia. Almost 20% of Australia’s vaccine supply was thrown out in September.

Total booster doses by country, per 100 population

Australia trails Chile, Japan, South Korea and Belgium on the total number of boosters administered per 100 population, according to the latest data. The same countries also lead Australia in total Covid vaccines administered, including first and second doses.

But it is hard to get a comprehensive picture of third and fourth Covid doses administered, as many countries lump the two together in their reporting.

Data from Australia, New Zealand and the US show the fourth dose rollout expanding significantly at the outset, but then all tapering off short of 20% of the total population.

Fourth Covid vaccine doses by country, per 100 population

Australia saw massive increases in first and second doses in late 2021 when more doses became available. First and second dose rates reached more than 80% of the population by early 2022.

Third and fourth doses saw a similar rapid expansion but have since come nowhere close to the rates achieved by the previous doses.

Australia vaccine rollout by dose, per 100 population

Even as the vaccine rollout around the world appears to be slowing, some countries have either significantly reduced vaccine reporting or stopped reporting entirely.

The UK’s Covid vaccine dashboard was last updated in early September, which is also the latest data available on the World Health Organization dashboard.

Australia similarly has not had an update on the WHO dashboard since late September, which is when state and federal governments stopped reporting daily. The latest WHO update for Japan, Portugal and New Zealand are all from mid or early October.

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