FAQ: Priority vaccination for educators and students

As the Chief Minister announced on Friday 3 September, the ACT Government has now agreed to the AEU’s demand and will prioritise vaccinations for all school staff who have direct contact with students, year 12 students, early childhood education staff and out of school hours care workers. We are pleased to report this good news to members. Our constant lobbying has paid dividends.

Below are answers from the ACT Government to frequently asked questions about this priority rollout. It has also created fact sheets regarding priority vaccination for school staff and Year 12 students.

School Staff  

Why are teachers, educators and other staff being prioritised for their COVID-19 vaccination? 
COVID-19 vaccinations are being prioritised for ACT educators, teachers, school-staff and early childhood staff as an essential step towards ensuring the safe return to normality for Canberrans. 

How do I book a vaccine appointment? 
Priority vaccination bookings for selected school staff can be made over the phone by calling the booking line. Staff will receive information directly about how to book their appointment.  Priority vaccination appointments cannot be made online.  

I already have a booking to receive a vaccine, do I need to do anything? 
If you have already booked a vaccination appointment, we encourage you to change to an earlier appointment by calling the booking line. 

I’ve heard conflicting information about the vaccine. Is it unsafe? 
In order for a vaccine to get approved for use in Australia, it needs to go through a series of safety checks by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA is Australia's regulatory authority for therapeutic goods like medicines, vaccines, and medical devices. 

The TGA has decided that the Pfizer vaccine meets the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required for use in Australia for people aged 16 and older, and the TGA monitors the safety of the vaccine in the community. More information about the safety of the vaccine can be found on the ACT Health website

Do I need to sign any forms?  
As with all vaccines, you need to give your informed consent before each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Informed consent means that you have been given information about the benefits and risks of the specific vaccine you are going to receive, and you agree for the immunisation provider to give you the vaccine. To make sure you provide informed consent for the COVID-19 vaccine, please read this information before your vaccination appointment.  

I live in NSW and teach at a school in Canberra. Can I make a booking to get a COVID-19 vaccine?  
Staff living one of the 10 approved NSW postcodes may enter the ACT for essential work or healthcare reasons. 

Students 

Which ACT students can book in for a COVID-19 vaccine?  
COVID-19 Vaccination bookings for Canberrans between the ages of 16 and 29 opened on 1 September. 

Why are Year 12 students being prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccination? 
Year 12 students have been prioritised for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination to ensure the ASTs and other school exams and critical assessments scheduled for Term 4 can go ahead as safely as possible.  

The AST is an important part of a year 12 student’s education journey – measuring skills and providing rankings for pathway into further education. As the exams must be held face to face and at indoor facilities, it is important that every effort is made to ensure every precaution is taken so that individuals are protected against COVID-19.  

Which students are included for Year 12 prioritisation? 
Year 12 students attending an ACT public school, Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), or a non-government school in Canberra are part of the group prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccination.  

When do bookings for Year 12 priority vaccinations open?  
Students that are prioritised for a vaccination can book to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination from 6-17 September.  

Accessing a priority vaccination will ensure students, teachers and volunteers, and those interacting in AST examination environments, have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the examination period starting in term 4. 

How do I book a vaccine appointment? 
Priority vaccination bookings for Year 12 students can be made over the phone by calling the booking line number (02) 5124 7700. Priority vaccination appointments cannot be made online. Parents and carers can book on behalf of the student if the student is there with them, or if you are their legal guardian. 

Do I need to have my parent’s consent to have a vaccination? 
Year 12 students under the age of 18 should have a parent or legal guardian present at their vaccination appointment to provide consent to the vaccination. Where this is not possible, our clinical health staff can gain the consent of the Year 12 student directly if they form the view that the young person understands the information being presented to them, including vaccine risks and benefits. 

I already have a booking to receive a vaccine, do I need to do anything? 
COVID-19 vaccination bookings for Canberrans between the ages of 16 and 29 opened on 1 September. If you are a year 12 student and have already booked a vaccination appointment, we encourage you to change to an earlier appointment by calling the booking line. 

Where will I need to go for my vaccine?  
Year 12 priority vaccinations will take place at the mass vaccination clinic at Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Arena. The Arena is located within the AIS campus in Bruce. 

Can I catch public transport to the AIS vaccination clinic? 
Yes, free public transport on bus and light rail is available for anyone travelling to the AIS vaccination clinic. To access free travel, people need to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination booking.  Parents, carers and family accompanying people to their COVID-19 vaccination are also able to travel for free.    

When will I get my second dose?  
Second dose appointments for the prioritised group of Year 12 students will be available in the week commencing 27 September. A booking for your second dose of the vaccine will be made for you at your first appointment.  

When will other ACT students be able to access a vaccination program? 
Planning is underway for a vaccination program for ACT students aged 12 and above, including prioritising and supporting access for key cohorts such as students with disability. Further details will be made available as soon as possible, noting that vaccine supply will be key to the pace and timing of this program.  

I’ve heard conflicting information about the vaccine. Is it unsafe? 
In order for a vaccine to get approved for use in Australia, it needs to go through a series of safety checks by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA is Australia's regulatory authority for therapeutic goods like medicines, vaccines, and medical devices. 

The TGA has decided that the Pfizer vaccine meets the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required for use in Australia for people aged 16 and older, and the TGA monitors the safety of the vaccine in the community. More information about the safety of the vaccine can be found on the ACT Health website. ​​​​​​​

Do I need to sign any forms?  
As with all vaccines, you need to give your informed consent before each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Informed consent means that you have been given information about the benefits and risks of the specific vaccine you are going to receive, and you agree for the immunisation provider to give you the vaccine. To make sure you provide informed consent for the COVID-19 vaccine, please read this information before your vaccination appointment.  

Where can I go if I have questions about the vaccination program or vaccinations? 
For more information on prioritised vaccinations for Year 12 students, visit the Education Directorate COVID-19 school arrangements webpage, the ACT Health COVID-19 website

Do I need to have my parent’s consent to have a vaccination? 
Year 12 students under the age of 18 should have a parent or legal guardian present at their vaccination appointment to provide consent to the vaccination. Where this is not possible, our clinical health staff can gain the consent of the Year 12 student directly if they form the view that the young person understands the information being presented to them, including vaccine risks and benefits. 

What if students/families want to be vaccinated at their GPs? 
We have requested that participating primary health care providers prioritise Year 12 students for COVID-19 vaccination, so that families that would prefer that their child access their vaccination from a participating GP or pharmacy may do so.  

I live in NSW and attend college in Canberra. Can I make a booking to get a COVID-19 vaccine?  

Students living one of the 10 approved NSW postcodes, may enter the ACT for essential work or healthcare reasons. This includes to get a priority vaccination if you are a year 12 student at an ACT school.  

Other information 

Do I have to pay for the vaccine? 
COVID-19 vaccines are free and are available regardless of Medicare or visa status.  

Will year 12 students being vaccinated mean that someone else already booked in for a jab will miss out?  
No. The ACT’s additional COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine doses are being used to make sure our youngest are protected.  

Where can I go if I have questions about the vaccination program or vaccinations? 
For more information on prioritised vaccinations, visit the Education Directorate COVID-19 school arrangements webpage and the ACT Health COVID-19 website

Contact

02 6272 7900

Authorised by Glenn Fowler for the Australian Education Union ACT Branch, 40 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600

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