Queensland has only used 60 percent of its inventory of COVID-19 vaccines, with more than 40,000 doses left over, amid mounting concerns about the pace of the rollout.
It comes as a result of frontline health workers being excluded from treating COVID-19 patients unless they are vaccinated after a stabbing attack by the federal government over the pace of Queensland’s stab vaccinations being rolled out.
New vaccine launch data received from The Courier-Mail shows Queensland has received 106,970 doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to date.
Only 65,129 of those doses, or 60 percent, were given, leaving a remainder of 41,841 doses.
However, the data also shows that every state in Australia is struggling to get barely half of the COVID-19 vaccines it has been given by the federal government into the arms of the most vulnerable and at risk, with Queensland being one of the highest Rates include administration of the available doses.
NSW only delivered about 50 percent of the 190,610 doses, while Victoria only delivered about 44 percent of its bursts.
Western Australia outperformed the country with 62 percent, South Australia with 35 percent, Tasmania with 59 percent, the ACT with 57 percent and the Northern Territory with 53 percent.
Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt also announced that 14,040 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered to Queensland on Tuesday. Another 51,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are being dispensed into the state today as part of a 12-week vaccination schedule.
« The plan further articulates that the Australian government has the option of second doses and that these second doses will be made available to ensure that all second dose vaccinations can be given at the correct interval.
« This minimizes any supply shocks and means any vaccine a state has can be given. »
Health Secretary Yvette D’Ath, who announced Queensland had given 65,129 vaccinations Monday, including a record of 6,004, defended the state’s stocks of doses.
« We had to wait for an even supply … we also had to reserve some for the second vaccination, » she said.
« The majority of all of our 1As had Pfizer. We have to withhold enough Pfizer to give them their second vaccination because we cannot be sure, and even the Commonwealth cannot be sure when this Pfizer shipment will get to Australia. »
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young on Tuesday ordered hospitals to ensure that only workers who have received at least one dose of the vaccine are in contact with potentially infectious patients.
Her order, believed to be the first in the country, comes amid growing concerns over the pace of vaccine introduction after two health workers at Princess Alexandra Hospital signed the highly contagious British strain COVID-19.
A nurse and doctor from the hospital are each at the center of the two most recent clusters that have put millions of greater Brisbane residents into a three-day lockdown.
When asked why the new mandate for health workers has not been in effect since the jab rollout began, Dr. Young that there are not enough vaccinations.
As of Wednesday, only people who have received their first dose of vaccine – Pfizer or AstraZeneca – will be able to work directly with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
By Tuesday morning, around 41,000 health, quarantine and frontline workers had been vaccinated – around 89 percent.
« We have set ourselves this goal for four to six weeks to get all 1A workers vaccinated, » said Dr. Young.
Ms. D’Ath reiterated that Queensland Health had only recently reached critical mass to allow only vaccinated staff to treat infectious patients.
« To say we could have done this a week or two ago would have meant we put our employees at risk, » she said.
« If we have fewer staff available to treat COVID patients than what is safe, it puts everyone at risk. »
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the introduction of the vaccine was a complex process that has been affected by uncertainties about supply.
« They take people off shift to get the vaccine. They have to be taken care of there, » she said.
Professor Paul Kelly, chief medical officer, said the Commonwealth had been « very clear » that the federal government had enough doses of the vaccine in its possession for people to receive their second shock. He said the Commonwealth, which is responsible for distributing and delivering the vaccine to jurisdictions, said that for every dose administered, a second dose awaits the emergency.
« It doesn’t require a state or territory to set aside a vaccine for this purpose, » he said.
Opposition Health spokeswoman Ros Bates referred to Dr. Young as « reasonable » which should have been hit sooner.
« If these workers had been vaccinated and not handled COVID-positive cases, we might not be in lockdown right now, » she said.
Chris Perry, president of the Australian Medical Association of Queensland, urged the state government to use « every available tool » to stop the spread.
« We are pleased that only vaccinated health workers are allowed to handle COVID cases, but they are still at risk until Queensland Health ensures that all frontline health workers are (mask) fit tested, » he said.
WHERE: Pfizer « Hubs » at Gold Coast University Hospital, Cairns Hospital, Townsville University Hospital, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Princess Alexandra Hospital
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