Mary Cullinane loved her job working with people with disabilities, but she left it when vaccine mandates were introduced.
- Ms Cullinane was told by her Russian doctors vaccines could reactivate her MS
- She was not given a vaccine exemption
- Vaccine rules change next week, but mandates remain for certain places and sectors
"I was very good at my job, and I thought that I had found what I was meant to do until I retire so I was loving the work that I did," she said.
The Lockyer Valley resident was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) more than 20 years ago.
In 2017, she travelled to Russia to undergo a treatment called autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) which Ms Cullinane said successfully halted progression of her condition.
At the end of the treatment, doctors in Moscow told her not to be vaccinated against anything, including influenza, due to the risk of reactivating her MS.
"I was told that I have a nerve pathway in my neck that is so damaged that any further attack in that area would end up with me being a quadriplegic for the rest of my life," she said.
MS Australia says on its website haematologists are "still refining the best practice for re-administering vaccinations after a person has received AHSCT" and yearly flu vaccinations are recommended for those who have received the treatment.
Ms Cullinane applied for a COVID-19 vaccination exemption but was unsuccessful. Her doctor told her he could not give her one as it was not one of the listed conditions.
"My manager was really great she wanted me back as soon as the mandates were lifted but it has been too long."
The rest of her family are vaccinated, and Ms Cullinane has recovered from COVID-19 after contracting the virus earlier this year.
She has taken up a new job in accounting with a business with no vaccine requirement.
Ms Cullinane said she would be hesitant to return to the disability support sector even if the mandate was to be removed.
"I really don't feel after the emotional heartache I went through when I had to leave my clients, I don't feel like I can put myself in that position again where the government can rip the rug out from underneath my feet by mandating me out of a job for any reason," she said.
Mandates 'very effective', but easing makes sense now
Changes from 14 April will allow unvaccinated people to go to restaurants, clubs, museums, and stadiums.
Vaccine mandates will remain for the health sector, prisons, schools and childcare centres.
According to Acting Premier Cameron Dick there is not going to be any move made to get rid of vaccine mandates entirely at this stage.
"We will take the advice of the Chief Health Officer and of course that's also the agreed position I understand it nationally," he said.
Infectious diseases physician Dr Paul Griffin said easing the mandates in certain settings makes sense.
"I think the benefits of these mandates has been reduced and they still come as a significant cost, so I think it's the right thing," he said.
"It doesn't mean they weren't the right thing to do at the time, I think it was very important to do at the time and very effective."
Dr Griffin said mandates in vulnerable settings, where they remain, need to be assessed on an ongoing basis.
"We know those areas are quite prone to outbreaks," he said.
"They have vulnerable residents or patients where the outcomes might be worse, so I think we do need to make sure we take those additional steps in those higher risk locations.
"What's really clear is protection against infection is reduced by two doses against Omicron but largely restored with that third dose."
The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties is calling for the removal of vaccine mandates in all areas due to how widespread the virus is.
"There's no justification for the mandates continuing in any circumstance whatsoever, " the council's president Michael Cope said.
"People have a right to bodily autonomy which means that all mandates should contain an exception for conscientious objectors and other people who have personal objections to taking vaccines."