Health officials are examining vaccination data ‘anomalies’ that threaten Christmas plans

State health chiefs say they are reconsidering data that could effectively force the cancellation of Christmas plans for thousands of people from Sydney and Melbourne in hopes of being reunited with the family from 1 p.m. South Australia.

A COVID-19 rule set by South Australia states that anyone coming from a local government area who has both COVID-19 transmission in the community and a vaccination rate of less than 80 per cent must be quarantined for seven days on arrival.

According to official figures, two major LGAs in Australia’s two largest cities are sitting below these targets.

The City of Sydney is only 73.2 percent fully vaccinated and the City of Melbourne is at 71.8 percent.

The usually popular area on the Adelaide River.
A strict COVID-19 rule set by South Australia requires that anyone coming from an LGA that has both community-level COVID-19 transmission and a vaccination rate of less than 80 per cent be quarantined for seven days upon arrival. (Getty)

Other Victorian LGAs, including Darebin, (77.4 percent) Yarra (74.5 percent) also fall short.

There is less than a week until the South Australian border opens for vaccinated people, and weeks from Christmas.

Sydney MP Jenny Leong lobbies to get the rule changed – saying the data is inaccurate.

Mrs Leong said she wanted to be able to see her family in southern Australia after many months – just like many of her constituents.

“Nobody believes that there are actually low vaccination rates in the city of Sydney, what we are dealing with is a statistical error,” Ms Leong said.

“The University of Sydney, for example, is being reported as the vaccination statistics by postcode are below 10 per cent.

“That’s not the real reality. The reality is that there are a lot fewer people living on campus at the moment, and in most cases, the students probably had their Medicare data linked to their regional homes.”

Ms Leong said population estimates used from 2019 are not accurate.

South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said she has also requested data from NSW and Victoria’s health officials.

Earlier this week during a press conference, Prof. Spurrier said people traveling to SA from the affected LGAs in Sydney and Melbourne should be quarantined for seven days. When she was pressured further, she said she was investigating the problem

“I’ve been able to get some really useful information from my Melbourne colleagues and I’m going to do the same with Sydney,” she said.

A quiet Rundle Mall in Adelaide, Australia.
People from parts of Sydney and Melbourne may have to quarantine if they travel to Adelaide, South Australia. (Getty)

“We were concerned that some of the data might be inaccurate.

“We will look at what the Commonwealth Government’s data shows, but if there are any inconsistencies like that, inconsistencies, we will obviously seek further information.”

But a spokesman for the federal government told 9News.com.au that vaccination rates would be the same if different population calculation methods were applied to the affected LGS – all still well below 80 percent.

But they said students in those areas could have influenced the numbers.

“For the city of Melbourne and Sydney, there may be a marginal difference in reported data due to the unique effects of COVID-19 on international student populations,” he said.

A spokesman for NSW Health confirmed that they were working with the federal government on “anomalies” in the figures.

“The Commonwealth Department of Health calculates and reports vaccination rates,” he said.

NSW Health works closely with the Commonwealth to identify and address anomalies in a number of local government areas (LGAs), where their reported rates may not be an accurate representation of the true vaccination rate in the community.

“There may be several contributing factors to these anomalies depending on the LGA, including the reliability of population data in the absence of many international students.”

The Victorian Ministry of Health said it had written to the Commonwealth asking it to update the census data to reflect the most current population estimates for Victorian LGAs.

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“These LGAs contain a high percentage of residents who may have relocated or returned to another place of residence since the last collection of population data was completed,” a health ministry spokesman told 9News.com.au.

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