West Australian students could be forced to get Covid-19 vaccine or risk missing out on school

Children who fail to get vaccinated against Covid-19 may be banned from attending school in Western Australia after the education minister refused to rule out the possibility.

Education Minister Sue Ellery told reporters on Thursday she was watching the transmission rate of the virus at schools in other states “very closely”.

“How the Delta variant is travelling through schools is something that is a live issue with the chief health officers from around Australia,” she said.

“The Department of Education here is in regular discussions with the Department of Health about what we might need to do – we won’t do anything that is not consistent with the health advice.”

Asked whether a “no jab, no school” policy was being considered, Ms Ellery said: “We’ve got to work our way through the health advice.”

“If that’s what the health advice is, then that’s what Western Australia would do, but that’s not what the health advice is right now,” she added.

“But I can tell you, differently to this time last year … it’s a live discussion about what’s happening with Delta in schools and what we might need to do differently.”

During Perth’s last lockdown in July, three northern suburbs schools were shut after being deemed potential exposure sites.

Ms Ellery indicated that could happen again if there was another outbreak.

It comes as the Victorian government announced plans to vaccinate children aged 12 and over at school.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation this week approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in “vulnerable” children aged 12 to 15, including Aboriginal youths and people with underlying health issues.

“Preliminary evidence suggests that children and adolescents have a lower susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 compared to adults, and play a lesser role in transmission at a population level,” ATAGI said in a statement.

“Healthy children also have a much lower risk of severe illness from Covid-19 than adults, and typically exhibit a mild course of illness.

“Several publications have reported, however, that children, adolescents and young adults with underlying medical conditions have an increased likelihood of developing severe disease and complications when infected with SARS-CoV-2.”

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