Queensland Reaches 70% First Dose Vaccination Rate

Queensland, Australia: Queensland has reached the 70% first dose vaccination rate as the Palaszczuk government has dropped a hint regarding the Queensland borders will be opened by Christmas.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said residents had five to six weeks before restrictions ease and Covid-19 is able to spread through the community.

“If someone wants a target, the target is getting yourself protected in the next five to six weeks,” she told reporters on Monday. “That is your mission — get yourself protected and that helps our whole community and allows us to open up. This virus will go into every single community once Queensland opens up, once Australia opens up.”

Ms D’Ath and chief health officer Jeannette Young have spent the last week travelling into the regions to focus vaccination efforts on areas where the jab rate is languishing.

A spokesperson for QLD Border Update advocates for opening the borders sooner, saying, "Our local businesses, particularly tourism, will completely decimated these lockdowns, but more specifically as a result of the closure of our borders. QLD relies heavily on tourism, both domestically and internationally, employing 42,000 and bringing in over $4.5 billion annually. We now have over 1000 signatures on the petition to open the Queensland borders and its growing rapidly."

The Health Minister said Queensland had been a victim of its own success, where the lack of Covid threats had created a lack of urgency.

“The regions just haven’t seen any outbreaks so there’s a fair bit of complacency and a view people can wait,” Ms D’Ath said. “The task here is everyone taking on the responsibility for themselves — the quicker you get vaccinated, the quicker you have protection. The question is who is going to get this virus? It’s going to be those people who are not vaccinated.”

The revelation from the Health Minister was a departure from previous comments from the Queensland government, who have frustrated many by reserving the right to keep borders closed even when vaccination rates reach 80 per cent.

At a separate press conference on Monday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk leaned on her government’s position which she has often repeated over the last few months — borders will open only when eligible residents have been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated.

“The sooner people get vaccinated, the better that life will be,” she said.

The concern for many is the definition of “eligible”, however, given the Premier has flagged concerns about the threat of the virus to those aged 11 and under.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated this fear on Friday after it was revealed the United States had moved a step closer to vaccinating the younger age groups.

“Once we reach those vaccination thresholds of people over 16, that still leaves a significant proportion of the population unvaccinated,” he told reporters. “And so I think as soon as it is safe and possible, and there is sufficient supply, the federal government really should pursue vaccinating younger people.”

On Monday afternoon, Ms Palaszczuk revealed Queensland had reached 70 per cent of those aged over 16 with their first dose.

“This is a big step towards our goal of 80 per cent double doses for Queenslanders,” she said.

The state recorded zero new local infections on Monday.