Vaccinations for health care workers

11 Nov 2021

AMA Queensland Council of General Practice chair Dr Maria Boulton


Transcript: AMA Queensland Council of General Practice Chair, Dr Maria Boulton, Nine, TODAY with Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon, Thursday, 11 November 2021

Subjects: Scrapping of mandatory masks, vaccinations for health care workers, Moderna vaccine for children

KARL STEFANOVIC:   Well, in Queensland masks are now optional– a reward for the state hitting the 80 per cent single dose target. But it’s not all good news, with a mystery infection on the Gold Coast among two new local cases. For more, we're joined by board director of the Queensland AMA, Dr Maria Boulton in Brisbane. Doctor, good morning to you, thanks for your time this morning. How do you feel about masks being ditched?

MARIA BOULTON:  I think a lot of people are very happy about it. I'm very happy that we hit the 80 per cent first dose. However, we do recommend that, if you're still in an area where you can't socially distance, that you consider putting your mask on, and if you're sick and have any symptoms, on your way to get tested, put your mask on as well.

KARL STEFANOVIC:   Well look, like the rain, COVID is going to come to Queensland and people are still a long way behind vaccination in areas, even though you have reached the 80 per cent. But in some of those particular areas, even just over the border and through Logan, you've got some concerns about the number of vaccinations, right?

MARIA BOULTON:   Yeah, definitely, there’s places like Cherbourg, where there's only 27 per cent of people have had double doses, compared to places like Goondiwindi where they're over 80 per cent. And I think we need to learn from places like Goondiwindi, see what they did, and try and get those rates up.

KARL STEFANOVIC:   Are you worried about these new local cases that are popping up?

MARIA BOULTON:   Yeah, look, it is a worry, they always are a worry because the Delta variant is very contagious. At least in the areas of Warwick and the Gold Coast, where these cases have popped up, the vaccination rates aren't fantastic, but they are decent. So hopefully they won't spread as much. But they are always a worry. And we always always ask people: don't get complacent, if you have any symptoms, put a mask on and go and get tested.

KARL STEFANOVIC:   Yeah, all Queensland Health care workers are now required to get the jab. I know there was some reluctance in some parts of the sector but you've been pushing for this, you must be pretty happy about it.

MARIA BOULTON:    AMA Queensland has been pushing for it for a long time. Our members were very, very supportive. Most of them are double vaccinated. And you know, above all, it is so important that no matter what health care setting you're at, as a patient, that you are as safe as possible. And the only way to achieve that was to vaccinate all the staff and health care workers.

KARL STEFANOVIC:   Why is there some reluctance with some parts of the health sector?

MARIA BOULTON:    I think there's always going to be some reluctance with vaccines. We see that time and time again. But the good news is there's been some recent studies that have shown that vaccine hesitancy is an all-time low. But above all, you know, we're there because we're caring for people. And there are vulnerable people that we care for, there’s children that can't be vaccinated yet, there's people who are going through chemotherapy and are immunosuppressed. And we need to make sure that they're protected.

KARL STEFANOVIC:    Look, I was at a hospital yesterday, and I mean, all those things are so important to get right, especially with vulnerable people health-wise. Look, let’s talk about Moderna, it’s a step closer to being approved for Aussie kids under 12. Do you welcome that? Or do you think that's going to be an issue for some parents out there with their kids?

MARIA BOULTON:     That's not what we're hearing. So most of the parents we have contact with, they keep asking me when is my six, seven year old going to be vaccinated? So, I think there's a lot of parents that are very, very happy with the news. And for us, it's really positive that there's two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, they're both being considered by the TGA in those age groups and I think that'll make many, many parents very, very happy.

KARL STEFANOVIC:     All right, good to talk to you today. As always, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

Published: 11 Nov 2021