Vulnerable indigenous communities could be at risk of being 'overwhelmed' by COVID-19 if their vaccination rates continue to dwindle, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council says.
Modelling based on current vaccination rates for indigenous populations suggests the 80 per cent inoculation target for first nations Queenslanders won't be achieved until February 2022.
The QAIHC says current health data shows 34.2 per cent of indigenous Queenslanders have had at least one vaccine dose.
The state's lowest vaccinated indigenous population is in central Queensland at 17.78 per cent fully vaccinated, with Townsville second last at 19.19 per cent.
With target vaccination rates being set, and the notion of opening the borders to 'live with the virus', Queensland's First Nations communities face the very real threat of being completely overwhelmed by COVID-19, QAIHC chair Matthew Cooke says.
"Targeted investment is needed immediately from both levels of government, otherwise our mob will be left behind when the borders open and be left most vulnerable to this virus", Mr Cooke said.
He says the vaccination gap is a grave cause for concern, particularly as discussions shift to reopening borders.
"We understand that the Queensland Government and National Cabinet are considering options around opening state and territory borders and have come to the position that community transmission is unavoidable, meaning that we will have to live with the virus," he said.
"Before this becomes a reality, we're urging the Premier to act further by investing in a targeted response to rapidly address current and on-going challenges faced by First Nations peoples.
The QAIHC are seeking targeted investments into NGO service providers to prioritise boosting indigenous vaccination rates across the state.
Addressing vaccine hesitancy is also a rising issue as pressures mount for open borders amongst a lagging vaccination rate by indigenous populations in the state.
""Every day we're tackling fear, misinformation and disinformation when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine," Mr Cooke said.
"We're localising the Make the Choice campaign to empower and embody the ongoing self-determination of First Nations people and deliver credible information to all Queenslanders; but we could be doing more with the right resources.
"We need further investment from the government as soon as possible to ensure vaccination rates can continue to rise for First Nations Queenslanders without increasing their risk of contracting the virus."