COVID-19 Delta strain fears prompt new pressure for teacher to prioritize vaccination

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Teachers are again calling on the federal government to make COVID-19 vaccines a priority for school staff amid concerns about the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant.

Today, the Queensland and Northern Territory branch of the Independent Education Union (IEU) renewed its request for priority to vaccines and also called on employers to grant up to two days of paid leave to teachers who do not cannot be vaccinated outside working hours.

Branch secretary Terry Burke said school staff have responded to the challenges of the pandemic with professionalism and deserve “safe workplaces.”

“The current epidemics and the presence of new and even more dangerous variants of the virus in Queensland and the Northern Territory underscore the importance of COVID vaccines – all school staff must have access to this critical safety measure,” he said. -he declares.

“We deserve safe workplaces and school communities – the federal government and employers can take immediate action to make it happen. “

The call follows new cases of COVID-19 announced in New South Wales this week involving a student at Rose Bay Secondary College and two students at South Coogee Public School.

Push for priority

The Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) had also previously called for making teachers and principals a priority group in the vaccine rollout.

QTU president Cresta Richardson said the union still believed teachers and school leaders should be a priority task force, but acknowledged that deployment was supply-dependent.

“Our employees are frontline workers and they must be treated as such so that their safety and well-being can be ensured,” she said.

The Australian Vaccination Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) says Pfizer is preferred over AstraZeneca vaccines for people aged 16 to 60, while AstraZeneca is the preferred vaccine for people over 60.

ATAGI also advises that the AstraZeneca jab can be used for adults under the age of 60 for whom Pfizer is not available.

The benefits, he said, were likely to outweigh the risks, provided the person made an informed decision.

Appeal from the National Cabinet

A spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Health said on June 4 this year that the National Cabinet had agreed not to identify “other essential and high priority workers to prioritize, given the difficulty of defining these populations”.

Instead, it would proceed with priority groups based on age.

“Anyone over the age of 40, including teachers, can receive a COVID-19 vaccine through general practitioners’ offices, state and territory-run vaccination clinics, or vaccination clinics across the country. Commonwealth, ”the spokesperson said.

“Although Pfizer is the preferred vaccine, teachers between the ages of 18 and 39 may choose to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine after consultation with their physician.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said that while the federal government sees teachers as a priority for immunization, it must also consider all school staff.

“We have to take into account teacher assistants, housekeepers, administrative workers, guidance officers and all other staff who work in school grounds,” she said.


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