Coast hot spots most resistant to COVID vaccine
Parts of the Sunshine Coast known for low vaccination rates could pose a problem for the rollout of the COVID-19 immunisation plan, health experts warn.
The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be the first of the long-awaited responses to be available in Australia for priority people by the end of February.
It's understood it will be available for front line healthcare workers, workers in aged care and those working on the border first.
Beyond that, health experts have warned there could be problems convincing residents in parts of the Coast where the uptake of other vaccines was low.
The Sunshine Coast hinterland has an average of 87.5 per cent of its population that support vaccinations, well below the target of 95 per cent, according to the latest federal data.
University of the Sunshine Coast infectious diseases expert Matt Mason said there were groups of people who would be "exceedingly" opposed to receiving the vaccine.
"In terms of changing people's attitudes, that's a really difficult area," Mr Mason said.
"You will get people like myself who are very pro-vaccinations and then people who are exceedingly anti," Mr Mason said.
"Sometimes there's not a lot you can do to change people's minds, so we need to aim for the people who are a little hesitant."
Mater Health Services director of infectious diseases Paul Griffin said areas where notoriously low rates of other vaccinations would be "really hard to crack" with COVID-19 immunisation.
"It's such a different vaccine and a different program than what we're used to seeing and there are some notorious myths that have affected vaccine rates, for example with autism and measles, that has perpetuated and contributed to some of those rates of vaccinations," Mr Griffin said.
Mr Mason said he was a big believer in vaccinations and said they were necessary for achieving herd immunity.
However, he said he did not believe that vaccination should be mandatory and said some parts of the community should not have it.
"Making vaccines mandatory can be problematic, there's always a percentage of the population who won't be able to have it," he said.
"Be it allergies, medical conditions, there's always a percentage who can't have it. That's why 95 per cent is the target."
Sunshine Coast's anti-vax hot spots that fall below the target of 95 per cent
Infants 12-15 months fully vaccinated
Maroochy 87.84 per cent
Sunshine Coast hinterland 88.81 per cent
Infants 24-27 months fully vaccinated
Buderim 88.54 per cent
Nambour - Pomona 86.97 per cent
Noosa 85.75 per cent
Sunshine Coast hinterland 87.39 per cent
Gympie/Cooloola 89.71 per cent
Kids 60-63 months fully vaccinated
Noosa 87.93 per cent
Sunshine Coast hinterland 87.58 per cent
The target is 95 per cent for all age groups.
* Data from the Australian Immunisation Register, annual data to September 2020
Will the COVID-19 vaccine be safe?
Mr Mason said people regularly questioned how safe the COVID-19 vaccine would be considering it was developed so quickly.
He urged people to have faith in the science behind the vaccine.
"What people need to remember, is that the speed of the vaccine delivery is a result of the funding being available and lots of it," he said.
"Normally, people working on vaccine development spend 40 per cent of time teaching, 40 per cent for research and 20 per cent engagement.
"But I know people in the Queensland COVID-19 vaccine team who are working on it 100 per cent of the time.
"So that time frame is being compressed because the funding and time is so available. That's the difference.
"People need to have trust in the vaccination, the health system and the medical people who are delivering it."