Six-week vaccine blitz for SA secondary schools

COVID-19 vaccination clinics will soon open at 24 secondary schools across Adelaide and the regions, following the release of new data showing South Australia has the second lowest immunisation rate in the country for 12 to 15-year-olds.

Oct 12, 2021, updated Oct 12, 2021
Photo: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Photo: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

The clinics will open later this month at public and private secondary schools that are located in local government areas with low COVID-19 vaccination rates.

They are expected to stay open for six weeks until the end of the school year, as part of what the Government describes as a vaccination “blitz” targeting young South Australians.

The Government anticipates that the clinics will also remain open on the weekends so that other members of the public can walk in to get vaccinated.

So far, 18 public schools are confirmed to take part in the vaccination rollout. A further six Catholic and independent schools are also expected to take part, but they are yet to be confirmed.

Confirmed public schools include:

  • Para Hill High School
  • Valley View Secondary School
  • Paralowie R-12 School
  • Kadina Memorial School
  • Underdale High School
  • Woodville High School
  • Port Augusta Secondary School
  • Findon High School
  • Mount Gambier High School
  • Loxton High School
  • Roma Mitchell Secondary College
  • Grant High School
  • Renmark High School
  • Charles Campbell College
  • Clare High School
  • Stuart High School
  • Reynella East College
  • Port Lincoln High School

Latest federal government data released yesterday shows South Australia has the second lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country for the 12 to 15-year-old age group, with only Western Australia falling behind.

The data shows 3.92 per cent of 12 to 15-year-old South Australians are currently fully vaccinated, compared to 17.65 per cent of New South Wales teenagers.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said South Australia’s vaccination uptake was “comparable with other low-COVID states”.

He said the schools selected to take part in the six-week blitz are predominately located in low socio-economic areas that have poorer vaccination rates.

“I think there are a range of factors as to why low socio-economic communities might have lower rates of vaccination – one that immediately comes to mind is mobility access (because) people in low socio-economic areas are more likely to rely on public transport (and) public transport may not provide ready access to clinics that are convenient for them,” he said.

“That’s a significant reason why we’re pivoting our vaccination program.

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“Up until now, we’ve significantly relied on people to come to us to be vaccinated, (but) now we will more and more reach out to them.”

Roma Mitchell Secondary College principal Toni Carellas said her Gepps Cross school was yet to decide where the vaccination clinic would be set up or how it would operate, but students would require permission from their parents before they are vaccinated.

“It’s a really good thing for our community,” she said.

“Having been in lockdown last year as part of the Modbury Cluster, we’re very well aware of the importance of being vaccinated and also keeping safe and healthy.”

At this stage, the Government is not planning to open vaccination clinics at primary schools or additional secondary schools this year.

But it is considering how equipped public schools are to deal with the likely incursion of COVID-19 into the state once the borders are reopened.

It comes after InDaily last month reported calls from the teachers’ union to ensure all schools are properly ventilated and spaced-out to reduce the spread of the virus.

The Australian Education Union wrote to Education Minister John Gardner urging the Government to conduct ventilation, social distancing and room density audits of all schools.

“SA Health and the Education Department have been discussing about the future arrangements for schools for weeks now,” Wade said this morning.

“The latest advice I’ve received is that the evidence is not there for air purifiers (but) there’s certainly been a significant focus both by Health and the Education Department on ventilation.

“There’s a ventilation audit underway as we speak.”

Premier Steven Marshall said South Australia would keep its border restrictions in place for “the majority of this final term”.

“We’re already doing that early work with an audit now underway with SA Health and the Education Department looking at ventilation in different classrooms and if there’s an issue there we’ll be advised and take corrective action,” he said.

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