Call to speed up COVID-19 vaccine for Victorian teachers as students return to class
For the past week, like most Melburnians, Simon Steele has been working from home.
- Melbourne Metropolis VCE teachers return to school on Friday, along with students of all ages across the state
- Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Brett Sutton says there are concerns about the transmissibility of new variants in children
- Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said education workers should be included in the immunization priority group
But even if Melbourne remains stranded, the VCE teacher in the southeast of the city will return to work on Friday.
Mr. Steele says he has “mixed emotions” about resuming face-to-face teaching.
“I am delighted to be back in class… and to see all the students again,” he said.
“But, at the same time, quite nervous and quite scared.
“We are entering a scenario where there is this new virus and the density limits of the classrooms are also normal and we are interacting with students and other adults who have potentially been exposed to the virus.”
At 34, Steele is not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The Victorian government has ramped up the COVID-19 vaccine for all older and disabled workers after a COVID-19 outbreak at the Arcare nursing home for the elderly in Maidstone.
Now the education union is calling for teachers to be added to the priority vaccine list.
Victorian-era Chief Medical Officer of Health Brett Sutton said the landscape had “changed” when it comes to the transmissibility of new variants of concern in children on Wednesday.
“Singapore has closed schools because it is the Indian Delta variant which has affected children more significantly, a disease more serious and more communicable with children,” he said.
Professor Sutton said it was not the Delta variant but the Kappa variant present in the Victorian epidemic, “we need to be aware that the transmission in children may be different, the severity in children. children may be different “.
Education staff “front line workers”
The President of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union, Meredith Peace, said education workers provide an essential service to the community and therefore should be included in the priority group for immunization.
“Throughout this pandemic, these workers have repeatedly demonstrated their dedication, professionalism and resilience. “
She said that in schools and TAFE, they had built the capacity to switch from face-to-face teaching to online learning and back again in a very short timeframe.
“In early childhood, they showed up to work on site during the peak of the epidemics, continuing to feed and educate the young children in their care,” Ms. Peace said.
Pfizer ‘Limited Supply’
However, Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said Victoria faced a “limited supply” of Pfizer – the vaccine recommended for those under 50.
“In general, the supply of Pfizer vaccine is limited,” Professor Cheng said.
“If we had more, we would be able to give more. But there is a supply chain. She comes from the Commonwealth and, in turn, [they get it] from abroad.
“We’re happy with what we have right now.”
Asked about efforts to make teachers eligible for the vaccine earlier, Prof Cheng said, “At this point, we are comfortable with the prioritization we have.”
Teachers “should be eligible”
Mr Steele said asking teachers to go to work without being vaccinated could potentially expose them to the virus, especially since some schools had as many as 1,000 people on site.
“It gives us a general feeling of disrespect for the profession, given that we are asked to go to work every day in a situation where other people would not be invited to enter with these potential density limits.” , did he declare.
“I certainly think teachers should be eligible. Certainly they should have the choice to make their own… given the risk and the exposures we have as teachers.
“If there was the vaccine made available to teachers tomorrow, I’m sure there will be a queue at the door.”