Australia still lags many other countries on vaccine rollout – but it’s catching up fast | Vaccines and immunisation


Federal health minister Greg Hunt has celebrated Australia’s vaccination rate passing that of major global powers, including the US and the EU.

“We’ve now passed the [United States], we’ve passed Israel, we’ve passed the [European Union] over the weekend, Germany and the OECD,” Hunt told RN Breakfast on Monday.

But is he correct?

At 231 days into the vaccine rollout, Australia still lags behind many OECD nations. More than 50 countries have administered at least one dose to a greater share of their populations. But many of them have much smaller populations than Australia.

Australia also trails other powerful nations on its share of the fully vaccinated population. The United States, Germany and Israel all have higher fully vaccinated populations – as do almost 30 other OECD countries, according to the latest data available.

Some, like Portugal (85.85%) and Spain (78.87%), are significantly higher than Australia’s target for opening.

Figures from Our World in Data, which is also used by federal departments for their comparisons, show a complex picture. Not all countries report daily. Data for some countries can be more than a week behind. And rankings can jump around depending on what metric you select or how you slice data.

Percentage with at least one Covid vaccine dose

As of 8 October, the latest date for which figures are available for the countries Hunt mentioned, 68.2% of Australians had had at least one dose.

This is ahead of Germany at 67.9%, the United States at 64.39%, and the European Union at 67.8%. But Israel had administered at least one dose to 70.28% of its population.

The United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand were all also ahead of Australia on this score.

Percentage vaccinated in the OECD

Australia got out to a very slow start – more than two months after some countries began vaccinating. The early rollout was also slow – Israel had given over 60% of its population at least one dose and the United States over 40% by the time Australia hit 10%.

Guardian Australia had previously found that vaccination rollouts tended to slow as countries approach the 50% mark – this was particularly pronounced in the US. But many of these countries have subsequently sped up, maybe due to rising cases, and Australia blew past this mark.

Australia had the lowest fully vaccinated population in the OECD only a few months ago, but has risen by eight places. Australia is currently vaccinating at a much faster rate than many, so may make up even more ground.

New Covid vaccinations per day

Notes and methods:

  • Data sourced from Our World in Data’s Covid repository

  • Data interpolated and smoothed where there were gaps in reporting

  • Vaccination bar chart using the latest data available for each country