Get jabbed before term starts – Sunderland College and health chief make Covid plea to youngsters
The city’s college leaders and Public Health chief are urging 16 and 17-year-olds and eligible children to take up their Covid jabs before the start of term to protect their health and prevent transmission to families and wider community.
Latest figures from Sunderland City Council showed 46.6 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds have taken up their first Covid jab meaning more than half of this demographic could be returning to schools and colleges unvaccinated when the term starts next month.
Gerry Taylor, executive director of Public Health at Sunderland City Council said: “So far we’ve had a really good uptake among 16 and 17-year-olds but we would urge those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to do so before the start of term to help protect themselves, their families and everyone they come into contact with at school or college.
"We would also advise children aged 12-15 who are eligible because they’re clinically vulnerable, or live with adults at increased risk of serious illness from Covid, to get vaccinated."
Concerns have been raised that young people, who are less likely to become seriously ill, have been more reluctant to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated, but Mrs Taylor stressed the importance of getting immunised for the benefit of the wider community.
She added: “Although the number of cases in Sunderland have fallen from their all-time high, they’re still much higher than we’d like them to be. So it’s important we all do everything we can to limit further spread of the virus.
“We would also encourage everyone to continue wearing face coverings in enclosed public places, test regularly using a lateral flow test when they don't have symptoms, and isolate immediately and get a PCR test if their lateral flow test is positive or if they have any symptoms.”
The importance of getting immunised before returning to classrooms is a sentiment shared by Sunderland College who will be deploying pop-up bus vaccination clinics at Bede Campus on Tuesday September 7 and City campus on September 16.
Director of Student Services, Ruth Magnus, said: “It’s all about making it as easy and accessible as possible for students who’ve not been vaccinated to do so.
"We are encouraging all students to be vaccinated before they return to keep themselves and their community as safe as possible. It also reduces the risk of having to isolate due to becoming ill or further disruption to their education if we had to go into another lockdown.
Mrs Magnus is confident the college’s students will take up their jabs.
She added: “We’ve had a number of our students who’ve been poorly with Covid or had parents who’ve been seriously ill in hospital or even sadly died – they’re certainly aware of the risks of Covid.
"While the risk of Covid to young people may be smaller there’s still a risk to them and their families. The students I’ve spoken with are really keen get their vaccinations.”
The college have also trained selected students as Covid Champions to promote vaccinations and dispel any myths.
Mrs Magnus said: “There’re lots of inaccuracies on social media and it’s important young people get the correct information.”
The college will be running lateral flow test clinics when students return but are also urging self-testing before the first day of term.