Hunter's COVID-19 vaccination rates catching up fast to NSW average

The gates of Hamilton South Public School were locked on Tuesday after a positive COVID-19 case. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
The gates of Hamilton South Public School were locked on Tuesday after a positive COVID-19 case. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The Hunter's adult vaccination rate has surged past 80 per cent, but seven school closures in two days show COVID-19 is still a threat.

"Our school will be non-operational effective immediately for the on-site attendance of students and staff to allow time for contact tracing and cleaning," principal Mark Warren said in a message to parents.

Weston, Tuncurry, Mayfield East, Mayfield West, Irrawang and Thornton primary schools have also closed in the two days since the bulk of students returned to face-to-face classes on Monday.

Hunter New England Health reported 49 new cases on Tuesday, the most of any health district in NSW.

The case tally has fallen slowly since a peak of 103 two weeks ago, when the state started removing restrictions on fully vaccinated people.

At the time, the Hunter's vaccination rates were lagging well behind the state average, but they have accelerated quickly in the past fortnight to almost catch up.

The region's double-dose coverage for those aged 16 and over was 83.5 per cent on Sunday, according to federal government data. The state rate was 85 per cent.

More than 95 per cent of Hunter adults have received at least one dose, above the NSW rate of 93 per cent.

A Newcastle Herald analysis shows about 69 per cent of the Hunter population, including children, is now fully vaccinated, up from 63 per cent a week ago.

Only 21 countries have a double vaccination rate higher than 69 per cent. Australia's rate is 61 per cent.

At least 80 per cent of the entire Hunter population has received at least one dose, higher than all but eight countries around the globe.

The coverage reflects a surge in second doses across the Hunter's local government areas in the past seven days. Double-dose rates increased from 70 to 79 per cent in Cessnock, 76 to 84 per cent in Dungog, 79 to 86 per cent in Lake Macquarie, 75 to 84 per cent in Maitland, 69 to 76 per cent in Muswellbrook, 75 to 81 per cent in Newcastle, 79 to 86 per cent in Port Stephens, 73 to 83 per cent in Singleton and 85 to 89 per cent in Upper Hunter.

Cessnock likely passed 80 per cent on Monday, leaving only Muswellbrook to achieve the milestone before regional travel to and from Sydney resumes next week.

Only Cessnock (94), Muswellbrook (94) and Newcastle (92.6) have single-dose rates below 95 per cent.

NSW recorded 282 cases on Tuesday. The HNEH district cases included 12 in Newcastle, eight each in Lake Macquarie, Cessnock and Maitland, six in MidCoast, five in Port Stephens and two in Dungog LGA.

The infections in Cessnock included five in Kurri Kurri. Dungog's cases were in Clarence Town and Gresford. Raymond Terrace had four cases.

Hunter New England Health said it was treating 24 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including six in intensive care.

Thirty-two of the new cases were infectious in the community.

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This story Hunter's vaccination rates catching up fast first appeared on Newcastle Herald.