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Half of all Omicron deaths in aged care: Canberra blamed for slow booster rollout

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The Queensland Government has blasted the federal government’s performance in delivering Covid booster shots to aged care and nursing home residents as it was revealed more than half the 202 deaths the state has recorded since the Omicron wave began were in aged care.

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Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said of the 107 aged care residents who had died from Covid in Queensland since December, only 10 of them had had booster shots.

“And I’m concerned that 20 were not vaccinated at all,” she said.

She said she would write to the Commonwealth outlining several concerns about its handling of the booster shot program in aged care, adding that Canberra was not sharing data on how many residents had received booster shots.

“I’m hearing from people who say they are begging managers from aged care facilities to bring people in to vaccinate their loved ones with boosters,” she said.

Of the 10 Queenslanders who had died from Covid over the past 24 hours, eight were in aged care. None had received their third vaccination.

D’Ath said the Commonwealth was also relying too much on state help to ensure aged care residents are adequately cared for.

She said the state government had been asked repeatedly by the Commonwealth to supply PPE equipment for use in the aged care sector, adding that there had been 26 separate requests from Canberra to Queensland Health just over the past week for emergency supplies of PPE and rapid antigen tests.

“I am very concerned about that is happening in aged care,” she said.

“Too many aged care residents are passing away who have not been offered a booster,” she said.

“We know they’re the most vulnerable and that’s why we’ve been saying all along the priority for booster shots should be in aged care residents.”

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard again appealed to Queenslanders over 50 to ensure they received their booster shot as soon as possible, no matter how healthy they were.

“We know that these boosters are critical to protecting us from the more severe complications of Covid-19, particularly for those over the age of 50,” he said.

Dr Gerrard said it was possible south-east Queensland has passed the peak of Omicron infections and that hospitalisation would decline but it was also likely hospitalisations in Townsville could increase.

He said an increase in hospitalisation numbers in the last 24 hours was not a cause for concern, with the seven day average the more important figure.

There are now 801 people in Queensland public hospitals with Covid-19, up from 744 the previous day.

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