Australia

Ethnic and language data will soon be collected from everyone receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

The federal government says country of birth and language data will soon be collected from all people presenting for a coronavirus vaccine. 

This same information has been collected nationally on positive COVID-19 diagnoses since late 2020.

A Department of Health spokesperson told SBS News its decision to collect the data was triggered by requests from community groups and health experts. 

They are hoping the data will help identify areas where the government needs to channel culturally-appropriate information about the vaccine. 

“In 2020, the Department of Health established the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities COVID-19 Health Advisory Group, which includes leaders from culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse communities and their representative organisations, health experts and medical and public health practitioners,” the spokesperson said.

“The purpose of the group is to provide Health with advice on the experience of culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse people and communities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

NSW Health worker Andrew Santoso receives his COVID-19 vaccination at the Westmead Hospital Vaccination Hub.

AAP

The Department said it would seek guidance from the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities  COVID-19 Health Advisory Group on whether or not it should make the data publicly available in “an appropriate and sensitive manner”. 

Previously, overseas studies have shown a disparity in vaccine uptake between different ethnic groups.

In December, the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health released a poll showing that while 76 per cent of people would take a COVID-19 vaccine, only 57 per cent of non-white respondents said they would too.

However, another 35 per cent said they were likely to change their minds and take the vaccine if their doctor encouraged them to.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia welcomed the move, saying it’s an “excellent decision” and one the body encouraged the government to do.

“What we’re interested in is trends in the communities in terms of their uptake of vaccination,” said FECCA Chairperson Mary Patetsos. “So what we’re wanting to find is whether particular communities in specific cultural, language and religious backgrounds are vaccinating at a particular rate.

“If it’s less than the average member of the community, then we really want to understand why it is, and then target a communications campaign so that they can make the best possible decisions for themselves.”

Ms Patetsos noted certain community groups were not getting information quickly enough in terms of what was required to limit the spread of the disease.

“We really want to target those communities to make sure that they know what is going on,” she said. “Yes we did see a high incidence of COVID amongst CALD communities, hence the call for the inclusion of all data in the vaccination rollout to ensure that we’re tracking communities, so that we know that they are well-informed as they make a decision.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania

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