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Brisbane behind on boosters, expert says fatigue to blame

Brisbane behind on boosters, expert says fatigue to blame

20 May, 2022

Brisbane and the Gold Coast are falling behind regional areas for COVID-19 boosters, and experts are calling on authorities to give vaccination rates a shot in the arm by finding out why.

Brisbane’s north and south, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast have lower COVID vaccine booster rates than the central west and south-west regions, according to Queensland Health data.

The metro areas had previously recorded higher vaccination rates than the rest of the state, but that excluded the Gold Coast, which struggled to meet double-dose targets when other areas in Queensland did.

The region is still just below the 90 per cent rate for double doses.

The central west and south-west regions have reported booster rates of 73.3 per cent and 67.7 per cent, respectively.

Brisbane’s south is at 61.5 per cent, while the Gold Coast was recording a 54 per cent rate.

Infectious diseases expert Paul Griffin said there was no clear reason why vaccination rates were better in the western regions but he had suspicions over the slide in shots.

“I think there’s a fair bit of complacency and fatigue that’s crept in down in the south-east. I think a lot of people are over it [COVID-19],” he said.

“There’s also this perception by a lot of people that have had COVID-19 they don’t perhaps need to get vaccinated or boosted, which we know is not the case, but certainly a widespread perception.”

He said access and better communication from authorities could be improved to lift rates.

Griffith University infectious diseases professor Nigel McMillan said authorities should consider areas such as Goondiwindi, which previously had high rates for vaccination.

“Goondiwindi had a really high vaccination rate, they led the way in terms of double vaccination rate ... but that seemed to be a community-led effort,” he said.

“To me, the most problematic vaccine statistic is 12 per cent double dosed for the five to 15 [age group] – that’s just one of the reasons we’re having this surge now.

“What we’re seeing now in the last week is a doubling in our hospitalisation numbers from a few weeks ago.”

Last week, one in 50 children were testing positive to COVID-19 amid Queensland’s second wave of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, while hospitals, down more than 3200 staff due to the virus, face an influx of COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Queensland Health has called for participants for a COVID-19 vaccine immune response study to better understand their short and long-term effects.

Queensland Health said the study, run by health and university researchers, would include understanding how and why people’s immune systems respond differently to COVID-19 vaccines in a Queensland context.

The study is open to Queensland adults who have received two or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with the last dose received one to three months ago.