Vaccination push as school start nears

January 24, 2022 BY

Barwon Health's community hub in Geelong has had a kid friendly makeover. Photo: SUPPLIED

WITH less than a week to go until the start of the 2022 school year, parents and guardians of 5-11 year-olds are being encouraged to vaccinate them against COVID-19.

President of the school council at Bellbrae Primary School Mitchell Barrow acknowledges some will be grappling with the decision to vaccinate children.

“I don’t think any parent would want to do this if they didn’t have to, but it’s what we have to do to keep people safe,” he said.

“The biggest and most important thing is to get kids back to school, so anything that will make that easier, to get back to some normality will be the best thing for them, to be with peers and in an environment that’s good for their mental health.”

Vaccination eligibility for 5-11 year olds opened two weeks ago and as of January 22, 175,000 of more than 578,000 Victorian children had received their first dose, 1 per cent of that age group’s cohort.

While vaccination for children is not a mandatory requirement to attend school, Education Minister James Merlino says “they deserve to be protected as you or I”.

“When they do get vaccinated, everyone around them, their families, their classmates, their teachers are also protected.”

Victorian Principals Association president Andrew Dalgleish said schools were expecting an updated COVID-19 Operations Guide to be made available on Monday, January 24 to support their preparations.

“This should include guidelines regarding educators now being included as essential workers with an exemption from close contact home isolation requirements to attend their workplace,” he said.

Pfizer is the only vaccine presently available for 5-11 year-olds, with the Victorian government noting in late December that the Therapeutic Goods Association and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation were also assessing the Moderna vaccine for children aged 6-11 years old, with advice expected over the coming weeks.