Queensland’s outgoing chief health officer has issued a final plea for people to protect themselves against COVID-19 before the borders reopen.
Jeannette Young will be sworn in as Queensland’s 27th governor on Monday, ending the most challenging time of her long career in public health.
On her final day in the job, she has issued a short, sharp video repeating the phrase she’s uttered time and time again since Queensland’s vaccination drive began in February.
“Queenslanders you’ve been fantastic, and as I sign off I’ve got one last request. Please get vaccinated,” Dr Young said in the clip published on social media.
No new cases of the virus were reported in the state on Sunday, which the premier has said is the “last day” for people to get a first shot if they want full protection before travellers inevitably import the virus.
“Queensland, today is the last day to get your first dose so you are fully protected when the borders open on December 17,” Annastacia Palaszczuk said in her social media posts on Sunday.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated, get it done today.”
It’s six weeks and five days until the borders open up fully on December 17.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses at least three weeks apart. Full protection isn’t achieved for one to two weeks after the second shot. That’s five weeks in total.
Those who have the Moderna vaccine need two shots at least four weeks apart. Full protection may not develop for two weeks after the second shot. That’s six weeks in total.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey gave Sunday’s COVID-19 update, saying: “It’s isn’t just a race now, it’s a sprint.”
Queensland Health delivered 14,312 doses in the past 24 hours, taking the first dose vaccination rate among the over-16s to 77.4 per cent, with 63.5 fully vaccinated.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Lynne McKinlay said people would continue to be vaccinated well beyond today, and clinics would still be open into the new year.
“You haven’t missed your opportunity. We want people to come forward even if it’s after today,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“I think what the premier is trying to do is to create that sense of urgency. I’m not trying to speak for her. But there is a sense of urgency to have everybody vaccinated before the borders open.
“What I’m saying is if you haven’t been vaccinated please do continue to go and speak with your general practitioner, your pharmacist, your nurse and get the encouragement you need, the confidence you need, to go and do it.”
Queensland is once more searching for a replacement for Dr Young after her anointed successor, infectious diseases doctor Krispin Hajkowicz, said he would not be taking up the chief health officer’s job after all.
He cited unspecified personal reasons.
Dr McKinlay said she had not put her hand up for the job. Fellow Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Peter Aitken will lead the pandemic response until a permanent replacement for Dr Young is found.
Dr McKinlay said everyone at Queensland Health would miss Dr Young, but the team charged with managing the pandemic was large, and strong.
“She’s been an incredible leader, and provided such incredible safety for Queensland during the time she’s been chief health officer,” Dr McKinlay said.
The premier added her own words of thanks, saying Dr Young had completed “one of the most exceptional chapters of public service our state has ever seen”.