Many Suffolk pupils aged 12 to 15 could wait weeks for Covid vaccine
- Credit: PA
The roll-out of Covid vaccine to pupils aged 12 to 15 started from Monday, September 20 - but many students in Suffolk will have to wait weeks for the jab.
The vaccine is being rolled out to three million eligible youngsters, and is expected to be delivered primarily within schools. Jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services, as with flu and HPV vaccines, who will be in charge of asking parents for consent.
Although students at some schools had their first jabs today, other schools have been given dates some weeks ahead. Others are waiting for confirmation of when the immunisations will take place.
Meanwhile, headteachers in Suffolk have stressed schools are not involved in administering the vaccines or obtaining consent - and that it is up to parents to decide whether their children should have the jab.
Dave Lee-Allan, head of Stowmarket High School, said: "We have had notification from the immunisation team that they are coming on November 12."
Mr Lee-Allan, who is also chair of the Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads, said he hadn't heard from other headteachers as yet, but thought it likely the dates for other schools locally would be similar.
He emphasised that schools are not involved in giving the vaccine or asking parents for consent.
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"We have only had a little reaction so far, but I'm getting questions like, will the school be promoting the jabs? The answer is no - our job is just to provide a hall. It is for parents to decide."
He added: "From a personal point of view, I would be very happy if I was told it was all going to happen outside of schools."
A spokesman for Copleston High School in Ipswich said the school had not yet been given a date for the Covid vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds to start.
He said Copleston had contacted parents last week to say it had been told the vaccinations would take place, carried out by the normal immunisation provider.
"We haven't yet been given a date, but we will tell parents as soon as we get any more information."
Copleston headteacher Andy Green last week said: "We can't tell parents whether their children should have the vaccine.
"It's parents who have to make the final decision, based on the evidence they've got. They have every right to make that decision."
Former Suffolk headteacher Geoff Barton, now general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “We welcome the fact that this guidance makes it clear that legal accountability for offering Covid-19 vaccines to children and young people sits with the School Age Immunisation Service and not with schools."
The former head of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds added: "We had asked for the government to make this clear in its guidance because 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.
"We are pleased that the government has responded in this way and we would ask that these pressure groups cease this activity."