Queensland doctor details 'frustrating' vaccine issue: 'Thrown out'

·4-min read

Vaccines are being "thrown out" in Queensland due to low demand as residents neglect to come forward to be inoculated.

Speaking to the ABC, Dr Natasha Yates, a Gold Coast GP and Assistant Professor of General Practice at Bond University, said demand for Covid vaccines was low and "tailing off" in Queensland.

Dr Yates said after the state's Chief Health Officer advised people to not get AstraZeneca, there was a lot of confusion and apathy as it was the only vaccine available to most at the time.

However, the rollout didn't pick up when Pfizer became more widely available.

"When Pfizer did arrive we were all pretty excited and pumped and general practices across the Gold Coast were really firing up to get a whole lot of Pfizer into people's arms," she told ABC Radio. 

"But really we've never seen a kind of demand that we thought would happen."

About 73.2 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have received their first dose of vaccination and 58.07 per cent are fully vaccinated. A total of 15,681 people received shots in Queensland on Thursday.

A patient receives a Covid-19 vaccination at a pop-up clinic at Bunnings Mt Gravatt in Brisbane on October 17, 2021.
Under 60 per cent of Queensland's eligible population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Source: AAP Image

No Covid, so no urgency to get vaccinated

Now, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are available across the state at GPs, pharmacies and dedicated vaccine hubs, but Dr Yates said people were "just not turning up" to get the shot.

Dr Yates said she had a patient say they would rather take their chances with Covid than get the vaccine.

She says this sort of attitude could be because people haven't seen how tragic Covid-19 can be.

"When I drill down it's because they've had a few friends who have bad reactions to the vaccines, but of course they've not had any friends or family died from Covid or end up in intensive care for weeks and weeks," she said. 

"So because we don't have those kind of stories in our community yet, we just don't have that impetus to go out and get it."

Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to media about Covid.
Queensland recorded one new Covid-19 case on Thursday – a man who was infectious in the community. Source: AAP

On Thursday, Queensland recorded its first locally-acquired Covid-19 case — an unvaccinated man in his 30s, who is currently so sick that communication with health workers has been almost impossible, making contact tracing difficult for authorities.

The man was infectious in the community for more than 10 days.

"We need people to be vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated you are more than likely, to end up very, very sick from Covid or in hospital, or in ICU," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Thursday.

Covid vaccines are going to waste

Dr Yates also said some in the community don't see the need as Covid isn't rampant in the community and because people aren't getting vaccinated, the supply is being thrown out.

"I can't give you exact numbers of how many have been thrown out across the Gulf Coast, but I know that it's a combination of Astra and Pfizer," she said.

GPs are also essentially sharing doses with one another, putting a call out when supply is about to expire and giving it to another practice if they are able to administer the shot to someone who wants it.

People standing in line waiting to get the Covid vaccine in Queensland.
Vaccines are being thrown out because people are not getting vaccinated. Source: AAP Image

Dr Yates admitted it is "frustrating" vaccines are going to waste, saying Australians perhaps don't value them as much as we should. 

She said health care workers in the developing world don't have access to the vaccines, which are their "first and only defence", as the intensive cares in some places overseas are not as good as Australia's.

"They are crying out for help," Dr Yates said, speaking of her colleagues overseas. 

"And yet here we have an abundance of them and we literally throwing them in the bin and so it makes me frustrated and it just makes me deeply, deeply sad as a human being."

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Queensland Health for comment.

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