The Cairns Post

Yarrabah lockdown risk


VULNERABLE communitie­s like Yarrabah could be locked out of Queensland’s reopening with low vaccinatio­n leaving areas at risk of being cut off.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service chief executive officer Suzanne Andrews said while vaccinatio­n rates in Yarrabah were improving, they were not rising fast enough – and she’s worried the community could once again be placed under the Federal Government’s Biosecurit­y Act 2014. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has threatened regional areas with lockdowns if their vaccinatio­n rates leave them unprotecte­d. During last year’s lockdown, a roadblock was set up on the route between Cairns and Yarrabah.

“It is a big concern that we could go into lockdown again,” she said.

Ms Andrews said if the state government decided that people were not going to protect themselves, then they would make the decision.

“The Premier and the chief health officer have said that if communitie­s do not get their vaccinatio­n rates up they could go into lockdown,” she said.

“The first time lockdown for Yarrabah for nearly three months in 2020 was very hard.

She said the three-day lockdown in August was not as difficult but said people needed to step up and get the jab.

As of October 25, Federal Health data indicated that 42.9 per cent of Yarrabah residents had received their first jab while only 24.5 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

“But some of the data reported for Yarrabah is not correct,” Ms Andrews said.

”As of last Friday we had our first vaccinatio­n rates at 47.2 per cent with double dose of 28 per cent.”

Yarrabah lags well behind Cairns in vaccinatio­n with first jab rate of 74.7 per cent and second of 62.8 per cent and the Cassowary Coast at 70.4 per cent and 50.5 per cent, respective­ly.

Ms Andrews said vaccine scaremonge­ring was a massive problem they had to manage.

“My team of health-care workers are exhausted from dealing with misinforma­tion about the vaccine,” she said.

Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt said it was “very concerning” that First Nations vaccinatio­n numbers currently lagged regional centres such as Cairns.

But he was quick to praise the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service which he said have “been amazing.”.

A Queensland Health spokesman refused to comment if a lockdown for Yarrabah was being discussed.

“Our best and only defence as a community is to be vaccinated,” the spokesman said.

“As always, we will do everything we can to limit the spread across Queensland.

“This includes protecting any vulnerable people from COVID-19, but you must also protect yourselves.”

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service recently partnered with the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service to go door-to-door in Yarrabah to help boost uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine.

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