Queensland’s lagging COVID vaccination rates cast doubt on Christmas travel, NSW says

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The New South Wales border commissioner has warned that Queensland’s vaccination rates cast doubt on the return of unrestricted interstate travel before Christmas.

About 45% of Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, while NSW sits at almost 62%.

Based on current trends, it is estimated that Queensland could hit an 80% double dose target in early December, while NSW is expected to hit that mark in mid-October.

“I note that NSW is probably about six weeks ahead of Queensland to reach both 70 and 80%,” said NSW Cross-Border Commissioner James McTavish.

“As New South Wales reopens and cases emerge in regional areas, this will pose significant challenges for border communities.”

Queensland police operated border checkpoints during most of the pandemic.(

ABC News: Chris Gillette

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The easing of the border already threatened

Border restrictions for Tweed and Byron counties were relaxed Wednesday morning after a seven-day lockdown.

But the confirmation of two positive cases in northern NSW overnight raised fears that cross-border communities could enter and exit lockdowns, prompting Queensland to reintroduce tighter border restrictions.

Queensland recorded a new case of COVID-19 on the Gold Coast on Wednesday – a man in his 50s who had been in the community while contagious.

A truck driver who tested positive in NSW had also been in the Gold Coast community between September 25 and 27 while he was contagious.

“Additionally, the truck driver drove through Byron Bay and Ballina today while contagious,” Queensland Chief Public Health Officer Jeannette Young said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said stay-at-home orders for vaccinated residents will be lifted on October 11, but her government will rely on health advice when considering the lockdown.

“It puts us in a new phase, a different phase of examining how we deal with COVID,” she said.

“There will be a lot more certainty.”

A man sitting outside in a poncho.
A man waits for a COVID test at Robina Health Precinct.(

ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale

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Need for coordination

NSW released its roadmap on the restrictions on Monday, but Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk indicated she intended to wait until Friday’s National Cabinet meeting as more models were released.

Mr McTavish said businesses needed certainty that governments had coordinated plans to standardize interstate travel well before Christmas.

“The biggest challenge for the Queensland government now is getting more people vaccinated to allow the economy to reopen and these connections with other jurisdictions to resume,” he said.

“This will present opportunities for misalignment between New South Wales and Queensland as Christmas approaches.”

A dark haired woman speaking to the media.
Yvette D’Ath urges unvaccinated Queenslanders to stop waiting.(

ABC News

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Queensland Minister of Health Yvette D’Ath said residents of Queensland should get vaccinated today.

“It’s at least five weeks from the time you receive your first vaccine that you are fully covered,” she said.

Leader of the opposition David Crisafulli said Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk is expected to detail a plan to exit the pandemic.

“She has to tell us what Queensland will look like next year and beyond,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“If we are on the brink of another lockdown, we have to be on the brink of another business support program, we have to have a plan to get out of this pandemic. “

No “sense of urgency”

Bond University assistant professor of general medicine Natasha Yates said vaccine complacency remained the “big deal”.

“We just don’t have that sense of urgency in Queensland,” she said.

“Very few people I speak to know someone who has died of COVID, let alone who has been hospitalized in intensive care.

A vaccination center bathed in cold light with two orderlies walking through its otherwise empty hall.
Everyone is going to be personally affected by COVID sooner or later, says Dr. Yates.(

AAP: Albert Pérez

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Dr Yates said that we are “all going to encounter COVID at some point”.

“It is now all over the world,” she said.

“The question is, when your body first experiences COVID, will it be while you have a vaccine in place and your body is already prepared?”

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