NSW Health asks schools for student details as vaccination bookings set to open

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NSW Health has given school principals less than 24 hours to provide the names and contact numbers of all HSC students eligible for a Pfizer vaccination because they live or study in one eight hotspot local government areas.

The letter was sent just after midday on Wednesday and the details must be provided to education officials by 9am on Thursday. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced year 12 vaccinations a week ago as part of her plan to send them back to school on August 16.

However, the plan contained little detail about how year 12 would return safely. Amid deep concern from schools and families as case numbers remain stubbornly high, Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday flagged even more changes to that policy.

HSC students will be sent a booking link within days to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

“Our intention still is that where that’s necessary that will occur,” she said. “But exactly how often that occurs, and in what context, is being determined this week. It’s likely we won’t have a uniform policy but one that reflects what’s happening in their communities.”

In the letter, principals were told their school will be allocated a time date and time window for all appointments. The vaccination is being offered to students enrolled to sit one or more HSC subjects.

“The opportunity for all year 12 students to be vaccinated in one week means there is a very tight schedule, and we will need all students to book in and be transported to the [Qudos Bank Arena] in a timely way,” the letter said.

The booking link would be sent to eligible students and their families within the next few days. Principals will also have to confirm the students’ eligibility and tell NSW Health whether they have any accessibility issues.

One source with knowledge of the program, who was not authorised to speak to the media, said buses would be organised to pick up students from pick-up points specified by NSW Health and transport them to the arena.

A 50-seater coach will take 20 students, and a Police and Community Youth Club officer will be on board. They will be processed, vaccinated, monitored, then sent back to the bus and driven back to their pick-up point.

Vaccination will not be mandatory and students over 16 years do not need parental permission for medical procedures.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, over a window of several weeks. Peak immunity is not reached until about two weeks after the second dose.

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