Unions call for urgent support to make sure educators get vaccinated against COVID-19
Teachers, educators and education support staff struggling to get access to vaccination has left schools and early learning centres unsafe, and society without a clear path out of the COVID-19 mess, three major education unions said today in a letter to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
The letter, a collaboration between the United Workers Union, the Australian Education Union and the Independent Education Union calls on Minister Hunt to prioritise access to vaccination for teachers, educators and support staff in schools and early learning centres to keep these frontline essential workers and those they educate safe.
In calling for priority vaccinations – staff in schools and early learning centres are not in any priority category at the moment – the unions argue priority access to vaccinations for staff would minimise the impact of future COVID-19 outbreaks on millions of families and children who rely on schools and early learning services.
The unions represent thousands of early childhood educators, teachers and education support staff across Australia, with Helen Gibbons, Early Childhood Education and Care Director of United Workers Union, describing the failure to prioritise vaccinations for this employee group as “an appalling situation”.
Ms Gibbons called on the Government to “lift early educators up the queue so that they can get the jab as soon as possible”.
“Early learning services remained open throughout the pandemic, supporting families, children and essential workers. You can’t socially distance with young children. The pandemic is travelling through our communities and educators are on the frontline unprotected.”
“If that’s not the definition of requiring high-priority access to vaccines, I don’t know what is,” Ms Gibbons added.