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Lesley Cromer can’t wait for both of her children to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
The Eltham mother and primary school teacher spent Wednesday securing a Pfizer appointment for her son Ben, 17, and breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced on Friday that her 13-year-old daughter Isabelle would soon be eligible too.
Lesley Cromer is relieved her children, Ben, 17, and Isabelle, 13, will both be able to be vaccinated from next month. Credit:Justin McManus
“There’s no doubt in my mind we’ve got to get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible,” Ms Cromer said. “It’s our only way out of all of this and for us to see the light of day.
“We have discussions about it all the time and the kids are most definitely keen to get it as soon as possible.”
Ms Cromer said more children being able to access vaccinations would help alleviate anxiety for a lot of parents.
“My feeling is let’s get these kids vaccinated before we open up,” she said. “I don’t want my son to be sitting in an exam room as one of the few unvaccinated people.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Friday that all children aged between 12 and 15 would be able to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this year, after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation approved the Pfizer vaccine on Friday for all Australians aged 12 and up. Bookings will open on September 13.
“We are in a position to ensure that all children and all families who seek their children to be vaccinated between the ages of 12 and 15, will be able to do so this year,” Mr Hunt said.
”Since August 9 we have opened up vaccinations for immunocompromised children, children with Indigenous heritage, and children in remote communities as well as the addition of those on the [National Disability Insurance Scheme] subsequently.“
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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