Covid: In-school vaccination programme to end this week

Schools still asked to 'signpost' alternative vaccination routes for pupils

Schools still asked to 'signpost' alternative vaccination routes for pupils

29 Mar 2022, 14:19

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The in-school Covid vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds will end on Friday – with more than four in 10 children in this age group still unvaccinated.

School leaders were informed today via an email from the Department for Education that the programme will halt on Friday, but schools are asked to “signpost parents” to alternative vaccination options.

Youngsters will still be able to access the vaccine outside of school at vaccination centres, pharmacies or walk-in centres.

Healthy 5 to 11 year-olds will be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine from Friday, with the jab having only previously been offered to the most at-risk children in the age group.

The email states: “For 5 to 11 year old and 12 to 15 year old vaccinations, please signpost parents to where they can book COVID-19 vaccination appointments online, at a vaccination centre or pharmacy, or find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site without needing an appointment.”

School sites have been used to vaccinate pupils aged between 12 and 15 since September but concerns were raised the programme lagged behind demand.

Children in the age group could initially only access vaccinations on school sites but calls to open up access to vaccination centres, like Scotland did from the start, were finally implemented during October half-term.

Furthermore the DfE announced £8 million in January to support in-school vaccination.

Vaccine uptake still lags behind Scotland

According to the government’s latest vaccination data as of Sunday, 57.4 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds in England had received the first dose of the vaccine, while just 32 per cent have had a second jab.

Covid-19 variant Covid

In contrast 67.9 per cent of the age group have received their first vaccination in Scotland, with 41.9 per cent having also had a second dose.

However, the low take-up rate may be linked to hesitancy from youngsters to get jabbed at all.

Data from the OxWell Student Survey of 27,859 pupils aged between 9 and 18, published in September, found 50 per cent were willing to be vaccinated.

At the end of February, the NHS reported its School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) had completed around 3,500 school visits since the start of term – with another 5,000 scheduled before Easter.

Schools warned over misinformation again

Today’s email from the DfE also warns leaders that “some schools have received campaign letters and emails with misinformation about the vaccine programme”.

Schools are asked to notify their regional DfE team of “any anti-vaccination activity” and ensure “they only share information from trusted sources”.

Bogus threats of legal action have been targeting schools since the start of the programme – with some threatening fines of up to £20 million and “life imprisonment”.

Schools hosting vaccination have also been targeted by anti-vax pressure groups throughout the process.

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