Queensland’s top doctor Jeannette Young has asked for one final thing from residents as she prepares to move onto her new role as the state’s Governor – that they go and get vaccinated.
Sunday marked her final day as the Chief Health Officer, a role she held for 16 years, making her the longest serving health officer in Australia.
She had provided daily updates to Queenslanders for the entirety of the Covid-19 pandemic, and was praised by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a final send-off.
‘Queenslanders, you’ve been fantastic and as I sign off I’ve got one final request,’ Dr Young said.
‘Please get vaccinated.’
‘Today Dr Young completes one of the most exceptional chapters of public service our state has ever seen,’ Ms Palaszczuk tweeted.
Queensland’s top doctor Jeannette Young has asked for residents to get vaccinated as her ‘final request’ as she prepares to move onto her new role as the state’s Governor
But Dr Young’s time as CHO has not been without controversy, with some of her more unusual comments sparking concern from many Queenslanders.
Just two weeks ago she claimed every single person living in the Sunshine State would become infected with the virus.
‘We are all of us going to end up being infected with Covid, every single person in Queensland,’ she said.
‘But if you’ve been vaccinated it’s highly unlikely you will be sick, and definitely very unlikely that you will end up in hospital or the ICU.’
Queensland has seen incredibly low Covid-19 case numbers in recent months but infections could climb around Christmas time as the state’s borders open up.
One of Dr Young’s most controversial messages was when she said people under 40 shouldn’t be getting the Astrazeneca jab because of a highly rare blood clotting disease.
Sunday marked her final day as the Chief Health Officer, a role she held for 16 years, making her the longest serving health officer in Australia (Dr Jeannette Young is seen centre with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk left and Health Minister Steven Miles right)
Dr Young is seen with her husband Professor Graeme Nimmo
‘I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid, probably wouldn’t die,’ she said at a press conference in June.
Australian health authorities at the time restricted the vaccine’s use for those aged under 50 after it was linked to extremely rare blood clots.
Her comments were in line with the advice from ATAGI and there was no serious outbreak of Covid in Queensland at the time.
This advice however has since changed with both Astrazeneca and Pfizer deemed safe to Australians.
Dr Young went on to say: ‘We’ve had very few deaths due to Covid-19 in Australia in people under the age of 50.
‘Wouldn’t it be terrible that our first 18-year-old in Queensland who dies related to this pandemic died because of the vaccine?’
Her time as CHO has not been without controversy including in June when she said young people shouldn’t receive the Astrazeneca jab (pictured is Dr Young at a pop up vaccination site at Bunnings Warehouse enjoying a sausage sandwich)
But with fatal blood clots occurring at a rate of about one in 1 million in Australia and largely affecting those with underlying health conditions, her comments provoked outrage in the medical community.
Many said her ‘fear-mongering’ position on AstraZeneca risked derailing the nation’s once lagging vaccine progress.
Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham in the aftermath slammed Dr Young and Premier Palaszczuk labelling their stance ‘shameful’ and ‘deeply unhelpful’ as the government tries to combat hesitancy.
‘The politicisation of the vaccine rollout that has been attempted by some, particularly by some state politicians in Queensland, is shameful,’ he told Sunrise.
‘It is the case that Australians who are young who contract Covid can go to intensive care units and do have a risk of dying from Covid.
‘That risk is higher than the risk of the clotting complications from the AstraZeneca vaccine.’
In the wake of the message, a series of anti-vax posters started popping up around Melbourne with Dr Young’s quote.
Queensland’s Department of Health fired back at the posters and said her comments had been ‘taken completely out of context’.
‘We urge the community to disregard this anti-vaccination nonsense – the Queensland chief health officer strongly advocates for vaccination every day,’ a spokesperson said.
Earlier this month Dr Young gave the grim warning everyone in the Sunshine State would catch the virus
‘To try to use a strong vaccination advocate in an anti-vaccination rally is absurd and contradictory in itself.’
In August, Dr Young bizarrely urged Queenslanders to avoid online shopping to help prevent the movement of people needed to deliver packages, and in turn reduce the spread of Covid.
The CHO told those who had been locked down in 11 south-east Queensland LGAs at the time to ask themselves if they ‘really needed’ to open their front door to go out shopping.
‘Instead when you open your front door, could you, please, think “do I really need to go outside my front door today?”
‘Maybe just stay home because you can only move this virus around if the person moves around.’
At the time the virus had been rife in Queensland, with Dr Young urging people to reconsider online shopping and try to get through the rest of the week with what they had in their house.
‘I’m a great online shopper,’ she said. ‘Could you think about whether you need to do online shopping this week?
Dr Young had stood by the premier’s side to delivery daily Covid-19 press briefings
‘Do you need those people out in the community delivering packages and things? Maybe just leave them for a week.
‘And click and collect – do you really need that furniture that I know you can go and click and collect which is safer, absolutely, than going into the store, but it still means you’re putting someone else at risk.
With Dr Young now set to start her new job as Governor on Monday, Premier Palaszczuk honoured her time leading the state through the pandemic with Queensland only suffering seven deaths since the virus touched its shores.
‘This has meant enormous pressure, sleepless nights, and a torrent of information which she has processed calmly and clinically, with compassion and care,’ she said during parliament on Thursday.
‘I am proud to say that, in my opinion, Dr Young has led Australia and the world in Covid health measures.’
Dr Krispin Hajkowicz, who was set to step in as the new CHO mysteriously pulled out of the role due to ‘personal reasons’ this week.
Dr Peter Aitken, who is the deputy health officer will step into the role until a replacement is found.
Dr Young (pictured) will start her new role as Queensland Governor on Monday