25 Jun 2022
Transcript: AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton, Nine Network, Today with Jayne Azzopardi, Saturday 25 June 2022
Subjects: Relaxation of vaccine mandates, COVID, flu vaccines
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: We’re reaching another milestone in our pandemic comeback with some of Queensland's last remaining COVID rules wound back within days. From 1am on Thursday, vaccinations will no longer be required for visitors to the state's aged care facilities, while the mandate for workers at schools and airports will also be scrapped. Joining us now from Brisbane is President of the AMA in Queensland, Dr Maria Boulton. Good morning to you. Look, this is a big step. Do you have any concerns about this at all?
DR MARIA BOULTON: Good morning, Jayne. Ultimately, vaccine mandates are a decision of the Chief Health Officer. We never called for broad mandates, we just called for healthcare workers. And I guess while mandates and restrictions are easing, it is important to remember there is a lot of viruses going around in the community. We have COVID, we have flu, we have RSV. It is very important that, if you're sick, stay home, get tested. We've seen too many people who have symptoms who are going around in the community who perhaps have had a negative RAT test saying, "Oh, it's not COVID, it's not the flu. I'm okay to be around people." Well, stay home, get better, and then you can go out and about.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: I don't think there's anyone at the moment who doesn't know somebody who's sick. At the same time as this is happening, we know fever clinics are being wound back. Do you think that's the right call?
DR MARIA BOULTON: Yeah, it's really interesting. We had 4,500 new cases of COVID overnight, and we know that there's many, many flu cases out there. Our hospital system is already stretched, and granted, they are stretched with many other issues other than respiratory illness. I think now is the time to make sure that we support primary care, that we support general practice, that we support GPs who are running those fever clinics so that we can continue to do the work that we're doing. Most of these cases are now being managed in the community. And as you know, until those cases go down, and they're not at the moment, we need to continue to support those services.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Is there too much pressure on the health system at the moment, or will it be able to cope with all of this?
DR MARIA BOULTON: That's the concern. There's over 500 people with COVID in Queensland hospitals at the moment. We know that ambulance ramping and bed block is a big, big issue. It is winter. We're seeing pneumonias. We're seeing flu cases. We're seeing children with severe RSV or influenza coming into hospital. And I guess now's not the time to take your foot off the pedal. Now is the time to ensure that all those community services like general practice are supported. But it's also up to us, the community, to ensure that you do stay home if you're sick, but you'll also access those vaccines. And for Queenslanders, the free flu vaccine initiative ends on the 30th of June. So if you’re keen on getting a flu vaccine and you haven't had one, that initiative ends on Thursday.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Okay, Dr Boulton, thank you.
Published: 25 Jun 2022