Covid vaccines for teenagers will not be given in schools, the Welsh Government confirmed today.
It said 16 and 17 year-olds will be asked to go to “existing vaccine centres”.
Headteachers’ leaders have welcomed the offer of vaccines to 16 and 17 year-olds in Wales but one union has warned schools must not promote the jab.
The National Association of Headteachers Cymru warned that with such polarised views on the vaccine schools must keep a neutral stance.
Read more:Keep masks in schools and offer all under-18s in Wales the Covid jab, says teaching union leader
Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru, said: “The debate about whether or not to vaccinate older children has been raging for many weeks.
“NAHT Cymru has always said that Welsh Government policy on child vaccination should be led by clinicians. To the extent that any such policy is controversial, it is clear that schools should not carry any responsibility for vaccination promotion, enforcement or policing.”
Eithne Hughes, DIrector of ASCL Cymru said: “Offering the vaccine to 16 and 17 year-olds signals yo young people that their health and education are valued. This is something we have been asking for and we are delighted.
“Logically, I anticipate 16 and 17 year-olds will be invited through the same adult Covid vaccination programme though their GPs.
“If I am correct and it is administered through the adult programme, there would be no need for schools to police it.”
The NAHT and ASCL warned infection control would still be needed in schools next term regardless.
The Welsh Government has already said masks and contact bubbles won’t be required and further details of how schools will operate from September are expected within the next couple of weeks.
Heads and unions have been calling on the Welsh Government to tell them as soon as possible what arrangements they will have to make with schools required to make risk assessments locally, depending on their individual situation.
Vaccinations will now be offered to teenagers
Laura Doel added: “Regardless of the extent that young people might suffer directly from the virus, the large numbers of pupils absent from school at the end of last term showed that Covid still has the power to affect the quality and continuity of the education they receive. That is a continuing worry for school leaders.
“Given that last week the Welsh Government announced the removal of specific Covid mitigation measures like staggered start times, self-isolation for close contacts and face coverings, we continue to urge ministers to ensure that alternative safety measures are put in place, such as better ventilation and a properly functioning test and trace system that takes into account how schools function. Proposals that do not appreciate how teaching and learning is delivered in schools are useless.
David Evans, Wales Secretary for the National Education Union Cymru, who has called for all under-18s to be offered the Covid vaccine said: “Vaccination of 16 to 17-year-olds does not, however, mitigate the need for additional safety measures to continue to be in place in schools and colleges.
“With the autumn and winter terms coming up, we will continue to talk to the Welsh Government about ways we can mitigate any risks in the classroom, for staff and students alike.
‘We are looking carefully at measures to check if ventilation is adequate. If it isn’t and if the only way of ensuring adequate ventilation is through air filtration devices, then funding will be needed to support education settings.”
Asked where vaccines would be administered, which vaccine would be used and the time between the first and second does, the Welsh Government said: “Health Boards will be inviting 16 and 17 year olds to vaccination centres. We are finalising the details and will confirm arrangements very shortly. They are being invited to existing vaccination centres.”
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