Covid: Call to double-jab all teachers over summer

Covid cases are predicted to peak just before pupils return next term, warn teaching unions

Catherine Lough

Vaccine passports for FE students 'premature', says AoC

All teachers must be double-vaccinated over the summer to protect them from a predicted Covid spike, teachers' leaders have told the Commons Education Select Committee.

Health secretary Savid Javid said earlier this week that all adults should have had the chance of both vaccinations by mid-September.

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But Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teachers' union, said this needed to be accelerated for teachers.

"Clearly we want teachers and education support staff to be vaccinated, we want them to be double vaccinated three weeks before the autumn term, if that can possibly happen," he said.

Covid vaccination for teachers 'must be accelerated'

His comments come amid warnings that Covid case numbers could hit 100,000 per day after restrictions are eased. The government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimates that numbers will peak from around mid-August.

In this context, school students also "probably" need to be vaccinated, according to Mr Courtney.

He said: "The question of vaccination of school students is the question that JCVI [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] must turn its attention to.

"We aren't the scientists to be able to make the assessment but we do know from the studies in America that...the Americans consider these vaccinations to be very safe.

"We know that if we're going to approach herd immunity through vaccination, then we'll probably need to vaccinate school students, and we think, given what we understand at the moment from SAGE yesterday, that the current peak is going to be reached at the end of August, so just as we're going back to school in September. I hope that JCVI comes forward with a decision soon."

Mr Courtney added that there was "lots more to say" about other mitigations that might be needed in September.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, suggested that vaccinating students would "build reassurance" after a likely August spike in Covid cases.

"I think it is worth reminding ourselves – and parents will be conscious of this, staff will be conscious of this – that distinctively, if you work in a school or college, you are surrounded by large groups of young people – those young people have not been vaccinated," he said.

"And it would seem to me that if vaccination is the way out of all of this, we need JCVI to be saying yes or no to young people themselves having the same protection that those people over the age of 21 will have had by September, and therefore, in principle, it would seem to me one way of building the reassurance that all of us are going to need after the spike in all of this at the end of August."

Leigh Powell, national officer of education and children’s services at Unison, said: "We are hoping that [JCVI] will make a decision very soon for vaccinations for those over 12 so that schools can reopen safely. We need a priority for...making sure that schools never have to close for this reason again."

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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