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'Get the damn vaccine': Doctors urge Premier to step up for COVID jab

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The Australian Medical Association has urged prominent Queenslanders to step up and get this “damned vaccine” after the Premier said she would delay her COVID-19 jab.

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Annastacia Palaszczuk hasn’t spoken to her doctor about a coronavirus vaccine, but says she will do so after her flu shot next week.

“A lot of people are getting their flu shots first because we’re coming into the flu season, so I’ll be doing that, and then I’ll be getting my COVID vaccine,” Palaszczuk told reporters on Friday.

No politician or top-ranking official in Queensland has had a COVID-19 vaccine, including Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young who plans to get the Pfizer jab.

The only other Australian leaders who haven’t got the jab are Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Acting Premier James Merlino, who are both under the age of 50.

However, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton have been vaccinated.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Professor Chris Perry said prominent Queenslanders should lead by example and not worry about jumping the queue.

“Well the queue is now looking at them and expecting them to get the vaccine,” he said.

“It’s high time people stepped up, prominent people in our political sphere, prominent celebrities, even though they’re sometimes a bit vacuous in the head, sporting identities, and get this damned vaccine now.”

The government is administering the Pfizer vaccine to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable people, but has stopped administering the AstraZeneca jab.

That decision follows official health advice that Australians under the age of 50 should get the Pfizer vaccine over the AstraZeneca jab.

AstraZeneca doses are instead sent directly to Queensland GPs, and the state has ruled out using them in a mass vaccination hub like those operating in NSW and Victoria, preferring to organise special fridges for Hospital and Health Services to support the broader rollout of Pfizer vaccines.

Palaszczuk said the state is too “decentralised” to set up an AstraZeneca hub, but she’s planning Pfizer and Moderna hubs later this year.

“Queensland is a big state, it is so decentralised, that so much planning is happening at the moment for that final quarter of the year, when we have more supply in Pfizer, Moderna it is going to ramp up,” Palaszczuk said on Thursday.

“And I know that Queenslanders are going to go out there in droves when we have all that supply ready.”

Defence Minister Peter Dutton – who caught COVID-19 early in the pandemic – suggested Palaszczuk and Young were setting a bad example.

“The Premier and the chief health officer in Queensland have let Queenslanders down,” Dutton said on Nine’s Today program.

Queensland receives 180,000 vaccine doses per week, but less than 3000 are being administered per day, according to the federal Department of Health.

By comparison, NSW administers 11,000 doses per day and Victoria is giving about 9000 jabs a day.

Both of those states operate mass vaccination hubs in Sydney and Melbourne using AstraZeneca.

Queensland Health says it has administered approximately 178,000 doses of vaccine so far and “if you look at percentage of vaccinations by state compared to population percentage, Queensland is comparable to other states”.

The federal government has pledged to provide 50 per cent of the funding for mass vaccination sites in states and territories, but Queensland is holding off until supplies of Pfizer and Moderna arrive.

Palaszczuk’s comments come as the Therapeutic Goods Administration linked a Queensland case of blood clots to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The 18-year-old nurse received the jab before health advice was issued regarding the vaccine and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

“The information reported to the TGA meets the criteria for confirmed TTS,” the TGA said in a statement on Thursday.

“However, the case remains under investigation as there are ongoing clinical investigations including consideration of other medical conditions.”

The TGA said 24 cases of TTS have been reported in Australia from 2.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca delivered.

In the latest development in a long-running saga over a proposed quarantine facility in Toowoomba, newspapers today ran articles critical of the limited number of pages, and detail, in Queensland’s submission to the Commonwealth.

The Wagner Corporation wants to build a COVID-19 quarantine facility that would host up to 1000 travellers and 300 staff at Wellcamp near Toowoomba. It would largely be self-funded through the payments travellers normally pay for such accommodation, however Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the plan lacks detail and the facility would be too remote.

Asked about the reporting on Queensland’s submission today, Palaszczuk said the document was meant to be commercial-in-confidence. Adamant the sticking point was the Commonwealth’s refusal to agree to international flights landing at Wellcamp, Palaszczuk rejected suggestions Queensland had not done enough work on the submission.

“That’s ridiculous because there have been ongoing discussions with the departments,” she said.

She had earlier accused Morrison of not being briefed by the departments when he spoke publicly about the proposal.

With Sean Parnell

 

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