New figures show the Illawarra's Indigenous community is being left behind in the NSW vaccine rollout.
University of Wollongong public health lecturer Dr Summer May Finlay is concerned about the "huge gap" between Indigenous and non-Indigenous COVID vaccination rates in the Illawarra.
This has prompted the proud Yorta Yorta woman living on Dharawal land with the Wadi Wadi people, to urge the Indigenous community in the Illawarra to get vaccinated as a matter of urgency.
Dr Finlay was disappointed to see data from the Commonwealth Department of Health showing that almost 14 per cent more non-Aboriginal people were fully vaccinated compared to Aboriginal people in the Illawarra.
That figure rose to almost 20 per cent for those people who have received just one jab.
Statistics show that 23.5 per cent of the Illawarra Aboriginal population over 15 are fully vaccinated, while 42.5 per cent have had at least one dose.
"We know that there are people out there getting vaccinated which is great but we are actually under the Illawarra average," Dr Finlay said.
"So while people are getting vaccinated we are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as non-Aboriginal people."
The Public Health Association of Australia board member added that the national gap for life expectancy for Aboriginal people was around 10 years less than it was for non-Aboriginal people.
"We need to be making sure that we do everything we can to protect our health and our communities," Dr Finlay said.
"A lot of our mob have chronic diseases which obviously can limit life expectancy or limit quality of life.
"Getting vaccinated will actually reduce the risk that COVID would put on someone who has chronic diseases. Furthermore getting vaccinated means that even if you are healthy, you're protecting your mob who aren't as healthy."
Dr Finlay is an ambassador for the #vaxtheillawarra campaign.
For the campaign the 40-year-old talks about her decision to get vaccinated despite being heavily pregnant with her first child.
"It is normal to have concerns, particularly if you are pregnant, because we want o make sure that we do the best things for our baby," she said.
"But I was reassured by my GP what I was doing was safe.
"I encourage other people who have concerns to talk to their GP but I can honestly say getting vaccinated is the best way we as a community can tackle COVID.
"Those looking to get vaccinated should visit the #vaxtheillawarra website. It is really helpful."
The #vaxtheillawarra team is putting an extra effort into explaining the importance and low risk of vaccination to the region's Aboriginal community.
"We understand there is hesitation amongst a number of groups in our community but by sharing stories like Summer's we hope it gives people greater confidence in the vaccination process,' Vicki Tiegs said.
#vaxtheillawarra has set the ambitious goal of being the first region in Australia to be 80 per cent fully vaccinated.