Qld cuts COVID-19 booster waiting time

The premier has announced Queenslanders will now have to wait just three months for a vaccine boost.
The premier has announced Queenslanders will now have to wait just three months for a vaccine boost.

Queensland has recorded 13 COVID-19 deaths and 16,031 new cases as the state moves to cut the waiting time for a booster vaccine.

The new virus cases emerged after 37,121 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday, taking the number of active infections in the state to more than 100,000.

Eight of the 13 fatalities - aged in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s - had received two doses of a vaccine, but none had been administered a booster shot.

The latest figures show 91.8 per cent of eligible Queenslanders aged 16 and over have had one dose of a vaccine and 89.1 per cent have had two.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 62 per cent of those eligible have had a booster, with the waiting time for a third jab to be cut from four months to three from Monday.

"Our pharmacists will be prepared, our GPs will be prepared, our health centres will be prepared," she said.

"So that brings us in line with what other jurisdictions are doing.

"The chief health officer advised me this morning that it is safe to do that.

"So can I say to Queenslanders - if you are due to have your booster please come and get your booster. It is that added layer of protection."

Queensland's Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said there were 855 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 54 in intensive care, with 22 on ventilators.

The "vast majority" of vulnerable and older Queenslanders have had a booster, Dr Gerrard said, without which the situation would be much worse.

"We would be talking about thousands of people in hospital and almost certainly our hospital system would be overwhelmed by now," he said.

"And we know that from the relative risk of being admitted to hospital for the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated, whether it's two doses or three doses.

"We certainly know that the booster reduces the risk of being admitted to hospital further than two doses, but two doses very substantially decreases your risk of hospitalisation as well."

The premier urged older and vulnerable Queenslanders to take care as the state's outbreaks peak in coming weeks with hospital cases likely to be in the low thousands.

Ms Palaszczuk clarified that older people were not being asked to lock themselves in their homes, but to avoid large crowds.

"That's not saying don't see your families, that's not saying don't go and do your shopping," she said.

"I've got parents in that age group, they're still going and doing their shopping, they're still seeing their family, but they're not going out to a party.

"It's about thinking about your movements over the next two weeks as we go into this peak of this Omicron variant."

The premier told reporters she had "no regrets" about opening the domestic border in December, before third doses had been widely administered, because the federal government said it was safe to do so.

Many of the recent virus fatalities had only received two vaccine doses.

"You were screaming at me to open the border, I find it ironic that you ask me that question now," she said.

Australian Associated Press