The federal government still refuses to publish how many people are vaccinated in Australia

Ken Tsang
3 min readJun 19, 2021


“How many people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Australia?”

This seems like such a simple question. Yet remarkably, after well over 100 days of the vaccine rollout in Australia, there is still no official federal government source which answers this question.

Instead, the Commonwealth has decided to only publish daily figures on the number of doses administered. But doses could be someone’s first dose or second dose, making it impossible to count the number of individuals who are benefiting from the vaccine protection — partial or full.

Around 6.5 million doses have been administered in Australia as of 18th June 2021. Without any other context, that could mean anywhere from 3.25 million to 6.5 million Australians have had at least one dose. That’s quite a large margin of error.

Daily vaccine dose administered slideshow — but nothing about how many people are vaccinated (Source: Department of Health)

We have to reverse-engineer the numbers

Volunteer data analysts have since reverse-engineered the number of second doses administered in Australia from a vaccination dashboard updated by Western Australia weekly. This dashboard shows the percentage of the eligible population that’s been vaccinated by state. When multiplied by the population, you can get the number of second doses administered.

Chart published by WA Health showing the proportion of the eligible population fully vaccinated, broken down by state
WA Health taking matters to their own hands, publishing % of eligible population fully vaccinated by state (Source: WA Health)

Unofficial, third-party COVID-19 tracking websites like and use this method to derive first and second dose data — putting estimates at around 5.6 million people with at least one dose and around 800k people fully vaccinated (as of 18 June 2021).

Even still — these reverse-engineered figures are estimations at best. From the publicly available data sources, it’s impossible to align the second dose data with the total dose data to get an accurate first dose count. It’s still impossible to get an accurate figure on how many Australian’s have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia.

And it’s not like they don’t have the data!

Behind the scenes, the Commonwealth provides states with a weekly situation report (known as a “SITREP”) which includes the number of people in Australia with at least one dose and people who have had their second dose. This is where the WA dashboard gets its data from.

These statistics are extracted from the Commonwealth’s Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) — which all COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia need to be reported into. But these simple statistics are not available to the public — and there’s no good reason for it not to be.

We are alone in the lack of data transparency

Most of our western counterparts (USA, Canada, New Zealand, UK and Germany just to name a few) publish detailed information about their vaccine rollout. The public can easily go to a Government website to look up how many people have been partially vaccinated and fully vaccinated, with breakdowns by age and vaccine type.

This is what modern democracies do: they publish open data.

And it’s not just what data is published, it’s how the data is published as well. The countries above all provide their vaccine rollout data in downloadable spreadsheet form, making it easy for anyone to analyse the data.

In Australia, we publish our daily vaccine data as PDF exports of a PowerPoint presentation - making it extremely difficult to analyse the data. Yours truly has written an automated data scraper to extract the figures, but it breaks every time the Government publishes negative doses administered in a 24 hour period. Truly amazing scenes.

Being open and transparent in our rollout is the best way to bring confidence to the Australian public. You have to bring the public along on the journey if you want to win their trust. But if the Government insists on hiding the most basic of statistics, the public can’t be blamed not trusting the Commonwealth in its rollout of the vaccines.



Ken Tsang

I make things on the internet like COVID-19 Near Me and AnyTrip