Regional Queensland towns with lagging vaccination rates could be plunged into lockdowns when borders open to interstate travellers in just a few weeks, the chief health officer warns.
The state has recorded no community cases of coronavirus just a day after a Gold Coast teenager and Gympie truck driver tested positive.
The 17-year-old caught the virus off a family member who visited from the Tweed region between the 18 – 20 October, and tested positive when returning to New South Wales.
Dr Jeannette Young says investigations into whether the family member was allowed to cross the border are under way.
While Dr Young confirmed lockdowns are becoming less likely as vaccination rates increase, she wouldn’t rule out stay-at-home orders for towns with low immunisation numbers.
The state is planning for the reopening of borders to fully vaccinated people in mid-December or when 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received two doses of a vaccine.
Currently, 75 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had their first dose and 61 per cent have full protection.
Lagging immunisation rates in some regions could mean they will not hit the target by the time the state opens up on December 17.
“Lockdowns are still possible in regions where there is vaccination rates of 50 per cent
“In Brisbane, it is less likely because our rates are higher,” Dr Young says.
Deadline looms for unvaccinated health workers
Meantime, Queensland health staff who are refusing to the coronavirus vaccination will be out of a job and could face disciplinary action from November 1.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath is refusing to “apologise” for mandating vaccinations for health workers and aged care staff.
A directive was issued this week, stipulating that anyone who has not had their first vaccination by Monday or had applied for an exemption could not work in a care facility of any kind.
Ms D’Ath says there is a “small proportion” of the healthcare industry, believed to be around 2,000 people, who are choosing not to get vaccinated.
“That is their choice.”
“[But] we cannot afford to have large volumes of our workforce off sick with the virus themselves.”
She says almost 100 per cent of doctors are fully vaccinated as is around 90 per cent of the entire healthcare workforce, and she is confident the system will manage without those willing to get the jab.
“[The mandate] is supported by the unions because they know it is about keeping our workforce safe.”