The Mayor of Upper Hunter Shire Maurice Collison last week issued a challenge to other mayors within the Hunter and New England regions to encourage their communities get vaccinated for COVID-19, as well as proposing a friendly wager for charity.
Cr Collison has joined other mayors in the region including Cr Rod Scholes from Muswellbrook, Cr Sue Moore from Singleton, Cr John Conners from Dungog, Cr Douglas Hawkins from Liverpool Plains and Cr David West from MidCoast Council in accepting the challenge to see which will be the first LGA to reach a target of 70 per cent double dose vaccination for residents 15 and over.
Each mayor has agreed to wager $200, with the mayor of the winning council to donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice.
"The Upper Hunter Shire is doing a great job of getting the jab however, we can't be complacent," Cr Collison said.
"Like all communities out there, the Upper Hunter Shire is suffering. The only way we can end lockdowns and to open up our beautiful region is to have a high vaccination rate."
Cr Collison said while each council was starting at different positions in the race, the point of the challenge wasn't to win but to encourage the mayors to use their platforms to motivate their communities to get vaccinated.
In accepting the challenge, the Mayor of Singleton Cr Sue Moore said in addition to the benefits of vaccination and a donation to a local charity, winning the challenge would deliver all-important bragging rights to her city.
"Singleton does not shy away from a challenge and I hope as many of my fellow residents as possible will join with me to roll up their sleeve, get vaccinated and take on our neighbouring LGAs," she said.
"It's welcome news for our residents and businesses that we were released from lockdown last week, but we still have to be vigilant to protect ourselves, each other and our community from the spread of COVID-19.
"I'm happy to support my fellow mayors in encouraging our communities to get vaccinated, and while I'd love to see Singleton hit 70 per cent first, there are really no losers if we all do our part to help NSW hit its vaccination target sooner rather than later."
Cr Moore acknowledge that residents had concerns regarding access to vaccines in the area, but encouraged people not to give up if they were unable to secure an appointment.
"I have raised this issue with the Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell MP, and am strongly advocating for more supplies to be made available in Singleton," Cr Moore said.
"Our Local Emergency Management Committee is planning another vaccine hub at Singleton Civic Centre on 3 October 2021, and I encourage everyone not to give up, and to keep trying to get both your first and second jabs."
According to NSW Health the Upper Hunter Shire is currently leading the double-dose race between the council areas, with 76.3 per cent of residents receiving their first dose and 44.7 per cent fully vaccinated.