Regional parts of Queensland may not hit the 80 per cent Covid double vaccination rate until 2022 – fuelling fears the state may still be months away from opening up to the rest of Australia.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week said she wanted a more ‘even spread’ of Covid-19 vaccination rates across the state before she would consider allowing interstate travel again.
Her stance is similar to that of Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan, who wants to shut the rest of the country out until a 90 per cent double-dose rate is achieved.
Brisbane, Noosa and Goodiwindi in the state’s south-east are all forecast to hit the 80 per cent mark within the next six weeks.
But in Rockhampton in central Queensland only 64.8 per cent of the eligible population are forecast to be fully vaccinated by November 22, according to a data analysis by The Courier-Mail.
Pictured: A neighbourhood in Gladstone in central Queensland. The town may not hit an 80 per cent double dose vaccination rate until early 2022
Pictured: A pedestrian wearing a mask in Brisbane on September 28. Brisbane, Noosa and Goodiwindi are all forecast to hit 80 per cent within the next six weeks
In nearby Gladstone that figure is predicted to be only 61.7 per cent, while just 62.7 per cent are set to be fully vaccinated by that date in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane.
In those regional areas the 80 per cent fully vaccinated mark may not be reached until the start of 2022.
Queensland as a whole is expected to hit the 80 per cent figure by the end of November.
Modelling shows it may take until 2024 for Aboriginal communities such as Cherbourg, 250km north of Brisbane, to hit that milestone.
The double-dose rate in that town currently sits at only 19.4 per cent.
Ms Palaszczuk has repeatedly refused to set a date for reopening Queensland’s borders.
The state’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the state’s ‘target’ was to avoid the 60,000 cases recorded in NSW during its latest Delta outbreak.
‘If someone wants a target, the target is getting yourself protected in the next five to six weeks,’ Ms D’Ath said.
THE PARTS OF QUEENSLAND WITH LAGGING COVID VACCINATION RATES
Over 15 double-dose vaccination rate as of October 10:
Lockyer Valley – 43.7 per cent
Western Downs – 43.4 per cent
Logan – 42.4 per cent
Banana – 41.7 per cent
Charters Towers – 37.6 per cent
Central Highlands – 37.1 per cent
Isaac – 25.3 per cent
Cherbourg – 19.4 per cent
Yarrabah – 19 per cent
Queensland’s double-dose rate is only slight ahead of WA, the nation’s least vaccinated state, which is considering mandatory jabs in more sectors.
That could include the broader public sector workforce including school teachers.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said Queensland would have to open before WA because of its connection to other eastern states.
‘They can’t stay hidden behind their border forever,’ he told the ABC.
‘It’s not feasible, it’s not possible, it’s not real to do that.’
Only 62.7 per cent are set to be fully vaccinated by November 22 in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane
Mr Willox said he understood the reluctance of Covid-free states to reopening borders.
‘WA will do things at their own time. They’re vital to the national economy but less connected, with their reliance on iron ore and other natural resources,’ he said.
‘They can afford to stay a little bit longer if they need to but both are starting to really feel the pinch of labour shortages and of that disconnection from the rest of the country.’
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week said she wanted a more ‘even spread’ of Covid-19 vaccination rates across the state before she would consider allowing interstate travel again
ACTU secretary Sally McManus urged every employer to have a plan to address risks for workers and customers as Australia moves closer to normal life.
‘That’s going to be just critical,’ she said.
‘Otherwise there’ll be more transmission and this will all be about hospitalisations and deaths.’
Unions want boosted ventilation, social distancing and testing regimes, along with assurances retail and hospitality workers will be protected when checking customers’ vaccination status.