Victorian year 12s to be vaccinated before October exams, James Merlino announces

One state government is targeting Year 12 students for priority jabs as their vaccine rollout ramps up significantly.

Victorian year 12 VCE students will be given priority for the Pfizer vaccine, with the intent to inoculate the entire cohort before they begin exams in October.

Teachers and VCE supervision staff will also be prioritised before exams start on October 4, but the government could not be drawn on how they would implement the ambitious program.

Deputy Premier James Merlino, speaking in his capacity as Education Minister, announced that as part of the state’s expanded vaccination program, final year students would be jabbed within the next six weeks.

Mr Merlino said these students were they priority because they deserved some “confidence and clarity about what the rest of the year looks like”.

“Everyone 16 and over, but particularly those year 12 students, we want to make sure that they’re vaccinated before their exams start,” Mr Merlino said.

“There will be very strong communication to all students and staff across all our schools in Victoria, but a particular message to our Year 12 students, but also VCE staff … We also want them to get vaccinated.

“Please get vaccinated as soon as you’re able.”

When asked whether that would mean students would be fully vaccinated, or whether Year 12 students would be given their own queue at vaccine hubs, Mr Merlino could not provide specific details.

“We’ve got confidence immediately in the supply, but in terms of delivering it, this is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. We need that supply,” he said.

Instead, Mr Merlino said his team was working “very closely” with the public health teams in order to send “very strong messages” to Year 12 students rather than mandating the vaccines.

“This is about giving them confidence and clarity that they can tackle their last few months of study and give it their best shot,” he said.

Mr Merlino confirmed VCE students who are not vaccinated due to their parents wishes will not face any repercussions.

“All students scheduled to perform their exams will do so,” he said.

Wednesday marked the first day the Victorian vaccination program was expanded to include everyone aged 16-39.

While those aged 18-39 can receive either Pfizer or AstraZeneca, those aged 16-17 can only receive Pfizer.

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Author: Shirley