News / COVID-19

School in the dark about vaccination plans

Brunswick principal encourages students to arrange their own vaccine shots rather than wait for a pop-up hub to be confirmed

Brunswick Secondary College buildings in Dawson Street.

Mark Phillips
Monday, September 20, 2021

BRUNSWICK Secondary College is encouraging students to book their own COVID-19 vaccinations rather than wait for a proposed pop-up vaccination centre at the school to materialise.

A state government announcement earlier this month caused confusion in the school community last week with no official communication forthcoming by the time the term drew to close on Friday.

In the absence of any information about when or how the centre would be set up on the school’s grounds, Principal Karen Harris has advised parents to instead make their own arrangements to get their children vaccinated.

It was announced on September 12 that Brunswick had been chosen to be part of the first cohort of schools to host pop up vaccination hubs as Victoria’s COVID-19 vaccination blitz was ramped up to include all secondary school aged children.

According to the Premier’s media release that day, Brunswick was to be one of eight schools chosen for the first round of pop-up centres, with 70 schools to ultimately be involved in the program.

Last Thursday, about 90 of Brunswick Secondary’s 150 eligible Year 12 students were given their first dose of Pfizer at the school, helping to boost the first dosage rate in the City of Moreland to more than 38%. They will be given their second dose in early October.

But those vaccinations, delivered by Austin Health, had been scheduled before the Premier’s announcement and were only available to final year students, causing confusion in the school community. Plans for mass vaccination of the remainder of the school’s 940 students are up in the air.

“As to whether we’re going to be a community hub, nothing’s been confirmed yet,” Ms Harris said.

“It’s not definite, even though we’ve been mentioned as a hub in the media. We’re hoping but it hasn’t been confirmed yet and there’s been no further details.”

She said she expected the remainder of the Year 12s had already made separate arrangements to be vaccinated. The school has not kept data on how many of its staff are vaccinated and was not at the stage of insisting that teachers be vaccinated.

In a message to the school community at the end of the term, Ms Harris encouraged parents not to hesitate in taking up an opportunity to have their children vaccinated and not to wait for a further announcement about whether the school would host a centre.

“We know the parents of many of our [Year 12] students booked their first dose separately and didn’t need to take up the opportunity to come into the school,” Ms Harris said.

“Because it [the vaccination centre at the school] hasn’t been confirmed I will encourage parents to make their own arrangements with GPs and the state hubs and if we do get confirmed, they can cancel that and come into the school.”

Click on the image to enlarge it.

By the end of last week, 65.9% of Moreland residents had received one dose and 38.3% were fully vaccinated. The city continues to lag most of Victoria, ranking just 71st out of the state’s 79 municipalities for residents aged over 15 who have been fully vaccinated. For the entire state, 44.1% of the eligible population were fully vaccinated.

An additional 4376 people had their second dose last week.

On Monday, Brunswick had seven exposure sites following the addition of the SUPA IGA in Sydney Road, which was announced as a Tier 2 site on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. Brunswick, Brunswick West and Brunswick East recorded eight new cases on Monday, for a total of 68 active cases. In the same period, Moreland had 47 new cases and 758 active cases, with most of them concentrated around Glenroy, Oak Park and Hadfield.

Brunswick MP Tim Read said he had not been briefed about the plans and questioned whether a vaccination hub would be more useful in the north of Moreland.

“I would be quite supportive if one was set up there [at the school] but accept the need is greater in the north of Moreland so if the government was tossing up whether to be Brunswick or Coburg I would say go north,” he said.

“We’re not too far from the Exhibition Building and Showgrounds [[vaccination centres] and I think the need is greater in Coburg than Brunswick. But I would certainly not object to one here.”

Mr Read said the state government should be prioritising pop-up mass vaccinations in large workplaces and making it easier for essential workers to be vaccinated.

Related story:

Brunswick school to become pop up vax centre