The mayors of Albury and Wodonga have been urged to double down on efforts to motivate residents of the two cities to be vaccinated.
Albury councillor Henk van de Ven raised the issue of COVID jab rates during urgent business at last night's meeting in response to the first and second dose rates of the eligible populations in the two cities "being very much on the lower end of the scale".
Cr van de Ven raised the option of another campaign being mounted through the Two Cities, One Community initiative or another body made up of all regional councils to "try and motivate our community".
"In trying to get that normality back we need to be on the front foot to get our own council staff to invest in this program, but we also need to get our communities invested," he said.
"I'm just wondering if you (Kevin Mack) as the mayor and (Wodonga mayor Kevin Poulton) can get together and really hammer our community to get on board."
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Cr van de Ven said it was unacceptable Wagga was comfortably ahead on Albury on double dose rates.
"We can't let Wagga beat us," he said.
Cr Mack defended steps taken to date in convincing people to get vaccinated.
"Short of dragging, kicking and screaming to get people to vaccination hubs it is nigh on impossible for us to do much more," he said.
"I've got the impression we are doing okay."
Enshrining in public health orders mandatory vaccinations for employees "would move the numbers along", according to council chief executive Frank Zaknich.
"Looking at the 80 per cent NSW first dose we're not far behind," he said.
"But every bit helps.
"But that will ramp up when mandatory vaccinations will be introduced through a public health order in the very near future."
Council staff are given time off to get the jab.
Cr van de Ven asked for a show of hands among his council colleagues as to who was double dosed.
The only councillor to say he wasn't was Cr Darren Cameron, who explained the background to his situation.
"I've made every effort to be double vaccinated because it is very important in my job," the union official said.
"But the earliest I can get my second shot is November because they are insisting I wait three months.
"The provision of vaccines in rural areas like Albury has been very slow.
"When we've got a Prime Minister who openly said it isn't a race it is pretty obvious where the fault lies for this debacle."
Cr Mack said Albury-Wodonga's higher rate of younger people in the overall population meant there had been a slower vaccination take up overall due to insufficient Pfizer doses.
"It has been going to Melbourne and Sydney so there is a lower number here," he said.
"While there has been some it hasn't been available as much as it could be.
"It is probably a lot to do with why our figures are probably lagging."
Wagga has 55 per cent of its eligible population doubled dosed and despite recent urgings from mayor Heather Wilton, Greater Hume is still languishing on 46.5 per cent.
Edward River (42.2 per cent) trails Greater Hume on the day the NSW government released its roadmap out of restrictions with major freedoms coming for the fully vaccinated.
In North-East Victoria, Benalla is a clear leader with 61.2 per cent of eligible population fully vaccinated.
Wangaratta's double dose rate was up 4.2 per cent on the previous seven days to 56 per cent and Wodonga still sits bottom in the North-East region with 52.2 per cent.
Just 402 vaccinations were administered at the Wodonga hub last Friday, a public holiday.
The Victorian government has confirmed it will conduct trials at businesses and events in six regional council areas with high vaccination rates.
There are none from the North-East selected.
Those chosen were Bass Coast, Bendigo, Pyrenees, Warrnambool, Buloke and East Gippsland.
Bendigo has 56.1 per cent and Warrnambool has 59.8 per cent of its eligible population double dosed.
East Gippsland has 60 per cent of its population with two jabs compared to neighbouring Alpine and Towong shire 58.7 and 57.9 respectively.
The trials are scheduled to start on October 11 and cover hospitality, hairdressing, beauty services and tourism businesses.
Events could include race meetings, community celebrations and concerts and all trial attendees must be double dosed.
They are being held ahead of the state hitting the 70 per cent double dose threshold in late October.
Meanwhile, Berrigan still leads a recently launched cross-border council race to be the first to 80 per cent fully vaccinated.
Berrigan, which has 60.8 of its eligible population vaccinated, leads its closest rival Indigo on 57.7 per cent.
In third place is Federation on 56.9 per cent with Moira sitting last on 53.9 per cent.
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