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‘Our only way out’: Families relieved about vaccinations for children

The announcement followed federal confirmation last week that all people over 16 would be eligible from the beginning of September. Victorians aged 16 and over became eligible for Pfizer vaccinations this week.

Mr Hunt said the best way for parents to protect children under 12 is to get vaccinated themselves.

“We know that most children who do develop COVID, catch it within the household environment from an adult and so the best way to protect your child is to be vaccinated yourself,” Mr Hunt said.

Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe said tapping into existing school-based and state led vaccination programs should be considered.

“There are two key questions that need to be addressed: How and when will the federal government prioritise teachers, education support staff and principals for COVID-19 vaccination? What is the process by which the federal government will ensure the vaccine will be rolled out to students in a fair and transparent manner?” Ms Haythorpe said.

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said schools were an important conduit of government health advice, on vaccines and COVID-safety more broadly, for families and communities.

“Schools are the predominant social institution in our societies, so their communication on this is critically important,” she said.

She said schools and parents needed to work together to give hope to students fatigued by the pandemic now that vaccinations were available.

“We need to change the narrative from fear to optimism. If we can amplify optimism we will get through this,” she said.

Victorian Principals Association president Andrew Dalgleish said vaccinations were an important step towards schools, and wider society, reopening.

“The overarching mood is we want our children back at school as soon as it is safe and possible to do so if vaccination is the way out of that for those that are eligible we encourage as many people to be vaccinated as quickly as they possibly can,” he said.

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