The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging Queenslanders to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.
Despite recent events such as the Walk-In Weekend resulting in many vaccines being delivered, the latest figures reveal that 45.6% of the state’s population have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses.
South Australia, West Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland have announced that people aged 60 and over can opt for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as well as the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The federal Department of Health has confirmed that general practices can opt to apply the new criteria and take additional bookings based on state and territory eligibility criteria (including Pfizer vaccines for people aged 60 and over) if they have capacity and available stock.
RACGP Queensland Chair Dr Bruce Willett urged patients to roll up their sleeves.
“Timing is everything, we need all eligible people to get vaccinated right away,” he said.
“Unlike our southern neighbours, Queensland has not experienced significant community transmission in recent months. That is not down to just good luck, it is a credit to the entire state including all the people who did the right thing and abided by COVID restrictions such as checking in and getting tested if feeling unwell.
“What it means, however, is that I fear a sense of complacency may be at play. Unlike in Victoria, the ACT and New South Wales, the virus has not taken hold and seems like less of a threat. I think that is a key factor in why our double dose vaccination rates are lower than other jurisdictions.
“So, let’s get on the front foot and change that because the reality is that COVID-19 case numbers will rise, and we must be prepared. It will be unvaccinated people more likely to contract the virus and suffer serious effects – including hospitalisation or worse.
“If you know an eligible person who is unvaccinated, please urge them to roll up their sleeve right away. Once they contract the virus it is too late, a vaccine won’t help.
“Let’s stop a preventable public health crisis from occurring that will place enormous pressure on the state’s health system and claim lives. To protect yourself and the broader community, including vulnerable people such as older patients and the immunocompromised, get vaccinated as soon as you can.”
Dr Willett warned that people over 60 across the state were particularly at risk.
“My message for patients aged 60 and over is simple – the best vaccine for you is the one you can get right now,” he said.
“In Queensland, that is either the Pfizer vaccine or the AstraZeneca. They are both extremely effective and safe vaccines and people aged 60 and above should be mindful that if they do contract COVID-19 they are more at risk of serious effects. That is not to spread doom and gloom, it’s simply a fact.
“No one can guarantee a future free of this virus forever, it will become more widespread. But there is something you can do to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe – roll up your sleeve and receive your jab right away.”
The Queensland RACGP Chair also made a plea for patients to be respectful of general practice staff.
“General practices will be receiving significantly increased quantities of Pfizer vaccinations over the coming weeks and practices are stepping up to their efforts,” he said.
“They are working as hard as they can to get you your vaccine as soon as possible, but there may be minor delays as availability of Pfizer vaccinations continue to ramp up.
“For all patients, please don’t take your frustrations out on practice managers, receptionists and nurses just trying to do their job. They are on the frontline of the vaccine rollout; however, they don’t make the rules and have been through enough already – so please be kind.”