Vaccines minister criticises 'intimidation' of heads

Minister says threats being made against schools by anti-vaccine protesters are a 'very big issue'

Catherine Lough

Minister criticises 'intimidation' of schools over Covid vaccine rollout

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup has spoken out against "threats and intimidation" being faced by headteachers as the Covid-19 vaccination rollout to teenage students takes place in their schools.

Speaking at a Westminster Hall debate today, Ms Throup said that, regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, "as with all vaccinations for children, parental consent will be sought".

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"The School Age Immunisation Service has vast experience in dealing with a number of other school vaccine rollouts in secondary schools, such as the HPV vaccine [and] the three-in-one teenage booster, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and polio," she added.

"I absolutely condemn the threats and intimidation to headteachers, school staff and anybody who enters school premises, and I feel this is a very big issue."

Schools facing threats over Covid vaccine rollout

Tes has previously reported that a number of schools have received letters threatening legal action from pressure groups attempting to obstruct their participation in the vaccination programme.

Ms Throup added: "My advice is that headteachers who have received such intimidation should very rapidly contact the SAIS, who are well versed in addressing this issue, and not be afraid to speak to the police and the [local authority] as well....this issue is extremely high on my priority list."

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall told the debate that she was "appalled that some of our headteachers have received threats via letters and on social media, including threats of legal action, and even death threats accusing the heads of supposedly promoting illegal medical experimentation on children," speaking about incidences of intimidation in her constituency of Leicester West.

“This is disgraceful and completely unacceptable," she said.

Last week heads criticised "extremely unhelpful" legal threats from pressure groups attempting to stop schools from participating in the vaccination rollout.

The Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary, Geoff Barton, urged people to stop attempting to pressure schools on this issue, after it was announced that 12- to 15-year-olds would be offered a Covid vaccine.

Mr Barton said: “Many of our members have been receiving letters from various pressure groups threatening schools and colleges with legal action if they take part in any Covid vaccination programme.

“This is extremely unhelpful and we would ask those involved in this correspondence to stop attempting to exert pressure on schools and colleges."

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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