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Students deserve better on vaccinations

“The road to hell is paved with bad sequels.” I see the truth in these words from poet Andrew Motion now more than ever as we discover information about the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.

As a year 11 student who has spent her past two years in and out of lockdown, without the stability and certainty of school and “normal life”, the fact there are only two responses to the Delta variant – lockdown or vaccination – seems daunting. More so when one option inhibits my ability to grow as a learner and the other is still not a reality due to lack of national political urgency and leadership.

VCE students will be eligible for vaccinations during their upcoming exam period.

VCE students will be eligible for vaccinations during their upcoming exam period.Credit:Jason South

I understand the importance of lockdowns and appreciate that remote learning is a privilege many around the world aren’t fortunate enough to have. However, it feels unfair that my age group, which is drastically affected by each lockdown, still faces such uncertainty regarding vaccine availability.

While Thursday’s announcement making the Pfizer vaccine available for the 16-plus age group is a welcome one, it seemed a little like the pre-announcement of the announcement – and too little, too late.

Ahelee Rahman studying at home during lockdown last year

Ahelee Rahman studying at home during lockdown last yearCredit:Joe Armao

Getting vaccinated may not be a “race” for the government, but for VCE students like me, we are racing towards the most stressful time of the year, without a clear plan to manage our studies and our mental health. And now, without a clear plan on how the vaccination will be rolled out within our age group.

I am not going to pretend I am as knowledgeable as our politicians. Even though I don’t have the right to vote as a 15-year-old (or the right to get a COVID-19 vaccine), I do have the right to a voice in our democracy and a right to demand that our national leaders think beyond the next election cycle. In the future, when we will analyse decisions made by politicians in this time and their impacts, I hope that they will honestly say the pandemic was not politicised.

We cannot have our education interrupted for more than 18 months in one of the most critical development phases of our lives. We cannot have the GAT pushed back three times and be stuck in a state of constant limbo between online and face-to-face learning. The solution is vaccination. But in September, which is the start of the most stressful three months of a VCE student’s year – it is far too little, far too late.

There are very few global leaders who can look past the next election cycle. If we’re lucky, they look to a maximum of 10 years in the future. True leaders look at generations.

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