Queenslanders under 60 are being discouraged from getting an AstraZeneca vaccine through a federal government-announced initiative, with authorities saying people should listen to state officials and “not the advice of Scott Morrison”.
It comes as the state records three new local COVID-19 cases and the government says the unvaccinated hospital worker who sparked the state’s current lockdown caught the Delta variant of COVID-19 from an unvaccinated traveller allowed to come and go from Australia.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s surprise announcement that consenting under-40s could ask their GP to offer AstraZeneca wasn’t cleared by national cabinet.
The announcement has been causing widespread confusion.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Queenslanders should listen to the state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, who has advised people aged 40 to 59 get Pfizer and over-60s get AstraZeneca, in line with health recommendations.
“I would say to Queenslanders throughout this pandemic, the advice of our chief health officer has served Queenslanders incredibly well, and they should take her advice about which vaccine is medically appropriate, not the advice of Scott Morrison,” Mr Miles said.
Dr Young told reporters she didn’t understand the prime minister’s “thought processes” on AstraZeneca, and remains strongly opposed to allowing younger people to have it due to an extremely rare risk of a blood clotting disorder.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath also warned Queensland was running out of Pfizer vaccine but had not been promised extra doses.
“On our calculations, we have eight days’ stock left for Pfizer. So we are getting to that point that we’ll have to start prioritising only second doses if the Commonwealth do not have any vaccine left,” she said.
‘Allowed to come and go’
Mr Miles said the federal government is at fault for allowing the traveller who sparked Queensland’s latest lockdown to move between Australia and Indonesia without being vaccinated.
Tracing has shown a receptionist from Brisbane’s Prince Charles Hospital has the same form of the Delta variant as that traveller.
The traveller was treated at the hospital, where the receptionist was stationed outside its coronavirus ward.
“They had been allowed to come and go between Australia and Indonesia repeatedly throughout this pandemic by the Morrison government,” Mr Miles said.
“They are not vaccinated. And have been through our hotel quarantine several times.”
He said the federal government’s claims that borders were closed was a farce, and thousands of people were being allowed to travel here “who are not stranded Aussies”.
Ms Palaszczuk said the federal government had serious questions to answer about the risk such travel posed to the country.