Half of the Pilbara’s eligible population has finally received their first COVID-19 jab as the threat of being locked down while the rest of Australia enjoys long-sought after freedoms draws nearer. During the past six weeks mass vaccination clinics in Port Hedland and Karratha have reported close to 10,000 residents receiving jabs. And despite last week’s milestone the coronavirus vaccine uptake in the Pilbara remains the lowest in the nation, with 40 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. As of November 22, 54.2 per cent of eligible East Pilbara residents had received one jab while the West Pilbara sat at 51.8 per cent. Just 40.9 per cent of the East Pilbara and 38.9 per cent of the West Pilbara were fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, WA reached the 70 per cent double-dose milestone on November 15 with 82.6 per cent having at least one jab. The latest mass clinic in Karratha ran from November 7-17 at Ibis Styles and was the second time the mass vaccination centre has been set up in the town. A Health Department spokesperson said WA Country Health Service had been running the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics with the support of Aspen Medical. “The results have been an outstanding community effort with almost 10,000 more Pilbara residents now protected against COVID-19,” they said. “Pleasingly, more than 1000 recipients were Aboriginal people, and now with the start of the Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus, more vaccination opportunities will be available to increase the vaccination rate in Aboriginal communities.” Speaking in Karratha last week, Vaccine Commander Chris Dawson said there was no issue with vaccine supply. “Everyone needs to get to that 90 per cent target,” he said. “What we have noted is that the take up has been slower in some groups, including Aboriginal people.” Mr Dawson said vaccine mandates had improved the vaccination rate. “What we don't want to do is lock down communities but we will if we have to,” he said. “The main reason for that is if the vaccination rate in particular communities is too low, then, you know, as a State we’ve got to protect all of our people. “It would be wrong for us as a State to simply open up all the roads and borders if there are particular groups that are at higher risk.” Premier Mark McGowan, who visited the Pilbara last week, said intra-regional borders would be a last resort. “As we said when we announced the transition plan a couple of weeks ago, those regions that aren't at high levels of vaccination will have to put in place special rules around them,” he said. “And it’s most likely going to be that only people who are double dose vaccinated will be able to come into those regions. “The best way of avoiding that is for people to get vaccinated.” Mr McGowan said enacting region-specific rules would be time consuming and demanding on police resources, but necessary if people did not get vaccinated.