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Young flags further vaccine-only travel from NSW as border tightens

“They need to get the first dose,” Dr Young said. “And I’ll be very, very clear, once we’ve had three weeks, I’ll then be asking for Queensland to please mandate a second dose.”

National cabinet has agreed on a phased plan for easing restrictions across the country, triggered when 70 per cent, then 80 per cent, of the eligible population is vaccinated – though some cracks have begun to emerge.

Lockdowns would become less likely and then highly targeted under the plans, with restrictions expected to be eased for those who are vaccinated once the 70 per cent threshhold is reached.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has so far only promised fewer restrictions once vaccine targets were met, rather than an end to them, despite the plan suggesting vaccinated people would be exempt from domestic rules.

More than 20,000 people were vaccinated in state-run clinics on Thursday, the highest daily total so far. A total of 26.84 per cent of Queenslanders are now fully vaccinated, with 45.24 per cent having had at least one dose.

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Infectious diseases physician and University of Queensland-based microbiologist Paul Griffin, who is also director of infectious diseases at Mater Health, said a move to allow vaccinated people to cross the border sooner could help boost takeup and was becoming more reasonable now vaccine supply and coverage was increasing.

“It’s in many ways, I guess, putting our money where our mouth is because I think the messaging around saying we know these vaccines protect people, but we’re not allowing fully vaccinated people to do reasonable things, was seen as a little bit contradictory,” Dr Griffin said.

Former chief health officer and emergency medicine expert Gerard FitzGerald, now at Queensland University of Technology, said any such decision would have to be based on the risk of transmission from areas based on case numbers.

“If people are coming from the Tweed where there’s been no transmission to work at the Gold Coast hospitals, or go to Gold Coast things, then that risk is fairly small,” Professor FitzGerald said.

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Those able to cross the border for work can use their Australian Immunisation Register history statement or similar from their GP, COVID-19 digital certificate via Medicare or a Queensland Health clinic vaccine appointment card to prove they have received at least one dose. Essential travel is still allowed for residents within the NSW border zone, without proof of vaccination, but has been strongly advised against.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed the move by WA Premier Mark McGowan to include proof of at least one vaccine dose for travellers arriving from states classified as high risk, while maintaining the expectation borders lower once vaccination targets were met and lockdowns ease.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews revealed last week his state had been asked to carry out further work on vaccine passports and associated freedoms alongside Tasmania and the NT.

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