Unvaccinated Queensland health workers seek jab as hundreds have exemptions rejected – ABC News

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In the space of a week, the number of potentially unvaccinated public health workers across the state has fallen by more than 1,000 as hundreds of exemption requests were rejected by the health department. 

Almost 114,000 Queensland Health workers have been required to have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since November 1.

The latest figures released by the Health Department shows just 6,341 staff members across the state are yet to provide confirmation of their vaccination

That is down 1,054 in just seven days, with more than half, 561, coming from regional areas.

More than 94 per cent of Queensland Health staff are now fully vaccinated.

Sunshine Coast University Hospital
Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the region’s health service has the highest rate of vaccine exemption requests in the state.(ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

About 2,400 of those yet to be vaccinated could face being sacked by the department if they fail to receive an exemption and do not seek a vaccination after being sent a show cause notice.

The remaining 3,750 are on leave and are not required to provide their vaccine status until they return to work.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the department was “proud and grateful” to those staff who were seeking vaccinations.

She said the hospitals and health services were working with those applying for an exemption.

How the regions are going

Central Queensland health staff had the biggest change with 126 being vaccinated in a week, representing one in four of those still yet to receive both doses of the vaccine.

The outback Central West district has the highest rate of unvaccinated staff in the state with one in 10 of its 466 staff yet to abide by the state requirement, close to double the state average.

Workers on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Cairns, and Central Queensland have the highest rate of staff requesting exemptions, about double that of Brisbane’s major hospitals.

In each region, the number of exemption requests still represent less than 5 per cent of staff.

Queensland Health said processing exemptions was a time consuming process with every application considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Sunshine Coast has so far granted no exemptions and rejected 55, while the Gold Coast has approved 88 and Central Queensland has granted 16.

“Exemption requests are not simple or straightforward,” the Queensland Health spokeswoman said.

Those wanting an exemption are being asked to provide evidence and have clinical consultations if they were applying on medical grounds.

“While this is being worked through these staff will not be in the workplace,” she said.

Queensland Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken provides COVID-19 update
Queensland Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken.(ABC News)

Earlier this month, Acting Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken said he was heartened by the increasing number of Queensland Health employees being vaccinated.

“I just ask all Queensland Health employees and actually all health workers across Queensland, if you haven’t been vaccinated please get vaccinated.”

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