Anti-vaxxers have been booking GP vaccination appointments with no intention of showing up in an effort to deliberately waste vaccine doses, a leading Queensland doctor has claimed.
The revelation comes as Queensland tries to generate more demand for vaccination appointments in anticipation of increased supply.
Royal Australian College of GPs vice-president Dr Bruce Willett said he was appalled by the tactics.
“I think [it] is … borderline criminal, and it’s actually taking the rights of other people who want to receive the vaccination, to make it less available for them,” Dr Willett said.
He said there had been complacency and hesitation due to the belief that COVID-19 would not break out in Queensland.
Queensland again reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – community-acquired or overseas acquired and in hotel quarantine – after imported cases managed to be contained before they led to a Sydney-style outbreak.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young praised the people of Beenleigh for following directions and helping contact tracers contain the latest mini-outbreak, sparked by an infected truck driver who gave the virus to a friend and her daughter.
“This is our window to get vaccinated before the Delta variant spreads through our community,” Dr Young said.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath warned Queenslanders their freedom could be short-lived, with NSW experiencing 30,000 cases in less than three months and more than 40 people dying each month.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Queensland was, through tough border restrictions, “desperately holding the window open” to give people more time to protect themselves with vaccines.
While Mr Miles acknowledged the need for NSW to have access to more vaccines, given its outbreak, he condemned Morrison government ministers for calling Queenslanders “laggards” when the state was using all of its allocated vaccines amid a shortage of Pfizer. He also questioned why Victoria had missed out on vaccines, which were also diverted to NSW, when the state was also in the midst of an outbreak.
Dr Willett said he was alarmed by stories that some people were “waiting for Moderna” and even “the Chinese one”, rather than get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“It’s a bit like being on a sinking ship and, you know, having a fight about which life raft or which brand of life jacket you’ll use,” Dr Willett said.
While Dr Willett denied a state suggestion vaccine doses were going unused by GPs, Mr Miles said Queensland Health had been expected to do 30 per cent of vaccinations but was already doing 40 per cent, taking over work meant to be done by Commonwealth-funded GPs, pharmacies and clinics.
The state released more than 900 families from home quarantine on Monday after they tested negative for the virus despite coming into contact an ill four-year-old girl at a school and a daycare centre in the Beenleigh area.
Queensland has had no new local cases since the girl’s mother tested positive on Saturday and a truck driver tested positive on Thursday.
“We’re so confident with the testing results with the kids from the early learning centre that we believe we’ve got this under control,” Ms D’Ath told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“Well done to Queensland again.”
-With Sean Parnell
- This article first appeared in InQueensland