Low vax Qld towns face future restrictions

Queensland regional centres and Indigenous communities will face COVID-19 restrictions if they don’t reach an 80 per cent vaccination rate by the time the borders reopen.

The state government will scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers who test negative when 80 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had both doses, or by December 17 at the latest.

Commonwealth figures on Monday showed 75.2 per cent of eligible Queenslanders had received one dose of a vaccine and 60.7 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner and Vaccine Coordinator Shane Chelepy believes the state will hit the 80 per cent target by December 17, but some areas are struggling to get there.

“I have high confidence that the state will meet the 80 per cent overall across the state,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

“I am concerned about some of our regional areas and some of our more remote communities, and we’re doing a lot of work in those areas, but we really need to see those regional areas this week come out and get vaccinated.”

Commonwealth vaccination figures show that only 31.7 per cent of eligible residents in the Isaac Region in central Queensland have been fully vaccinated and 48.2 per cent have had one dose.

In the Indigenous community of Cherbourg, in the southeast, 25.7 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated and 33.7 per cent have had one jab.

Mr Chelepy warned individual local government areas will face future COVID-19 restrictions, including lockdowns, if they don’t get to 80 per cent before the Queensland borders open.

“The premier and the chief health officer has been clear on this: the areas that don’t reach 80 per cent, if we have an outbreak in those areas, restrictions will need to be applied,” he said.

Mr Chelepy warned the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 will hit the state.

“Once the state opens, Delta will come in from NSW, it will come in from Victoria, and when it does come in it will go into every single regional town in the state, so we will see outbreaks in those areas,” he said.

Queensland had managed to lift vaccination rates in some regional and remote towns and the government is working with councillors, mayors and Indigenous elders to get more people vaccinated.

But many people living in regional areas were complacent about getting the jab because they hadn’t experienced COVID-19 outbreaks or restrictions, Mr Chelepy said.

“We’re a victim of our own success in some ways. We’ve really not had a lot of COVID outbreaks in our regional areas.

“Most of the outbreaks have been in southeast Queensland, a little bit in Cairns and Townsville, so I think we are suffering a lot of complacency in some of our areas that they haven’t really been touched by COVID during the event.”

News Gaffer