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Queensland to hit 80 per cent double-jabbed a week earlier than expected

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Queensland’s new Chief Health Officer is infectious diseases specialist Dr John Gerrard.

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He will take up his role mid-December and steward the State’s medical response as it opens up to interstate and international travellers for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Gerrard’s appointment, announced Monday, comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Queensland would hit the 80 per cent double vaccinated target a week earlier than expected.

She said this was due to the large numbers of people across the State turning out to be get vaccinated in the past few weeks.

It means the 90 per cent double jabbed target would also be reached earlier than originally planned, probably about mid-January.

Queensland had no new COVID-19 cases on Monday.

It came as the Premier made no apologies and showed no sign of backing down on controversial $145 PCR tests,  mandatory for all travellers to the State.

“We make no apologies in keeping Queenslanders safe. It is the same in other States. This is not just unique to Queensland,” the  Premier said, speaking at the Gold Coast.

“This is a measure that has been put in place and will remain in place on the advice of our Chief Health officer. We have announced our plan and the plan is staying,” she said.

On Monday, 84.55 per cent of the State had received the first dose of the vaccine and 73.34 per cent had received two doses.

The Premier announced the appointment of the CHO as Gerrard, the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service infectious diseases director.

He takes up the role after previous long-serving CHO, Dr Jeannette Young, was named the State’s Governor. Her initial replacement, Dr Krispin Hajkowicz, later declined the role for personal reasons.

Gerrard said it was a “profound honour” to take up the reins at this time.

He said Queenslanders had had little exposure to the virus so far, but times were changing.

“Now as we move forward, things will start changing. During the course of the next 12 months, it is likely that the virus will be introduced into Queensland,” Gerrard said.

It is important all Queenslanders are fully-vaccinated, he said.

Gerrard has a track record of research into emerging infectious diseases and vaccine development.

He conducted ground breaking research into the emergence of AIDS in Australia and received a Humanitarian Overseas Service medal for his work on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

Gerrard lead the international COVID response on board the Diamond Princess in Japan in February 2020 and in the Dutch Antilles in early 2021.

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