The NSW Government will prioritise vaccinations for teachers in the Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas after the state recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
In the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday night, NSW Health recorded 112 new cases, with 34 people identified as being infectious whilst active in the community.
On Monday, the NSW Department of Education announced that more than 10,000 teachers and school staff in South Western Sydney’s areas of COVID concern will have priority access to the vaccine rollout.
“I’m thrilled teachers are being prioritised for vaccination in the areas of Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas. Vaccinating teachers is something I have been advocating for both with my colleagues and also publicly,” Minister Mitchell said.
“Over half our workforce are eligible for the vaccine, and now teachers in areas of concern for COVID-19 transmission have priority access.”
The priority access extends to all staff, including teachers, administration staff and support officers working for government and non-government schools in the designated Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas.
“I encourage all staff who are eligible for the vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and for those in impacted LGAs take full advantage of this priority access,” Minister Mitchell said.
Eligible staff will be issued links to access a vaccine appointment and they will need to provide proof of employment when they arrive for their vaccination.
‘A welcome first step’
NSW Teachers Federation president, Angelo Gavrielatos, called the vaccine priority status for teachers in southwestern Sydney a “welcome first step”.
“We have been making representations that teachers be prioritised in the vaccination rollout since August last year,” Gavrielatos told The Educator.
“Today’s announcement that the NSW government will prioritise teachers in the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool LGAs, where there is significant concern associated with COVID transmission is a welcome first step in what should be the prioritisation of all teachers.”
The NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (NSWSPC) said the Department's announcement was “a great step in the right direction" but wants all teachers to be vaccinated.
“With many students and staff travelling across the Greater Sydney Area and into regional areas, we are calling upon the Government to further extend the school vaccination program as a matter of priority in order to help minimise the further spread of COVID and to ensure the safety of schools for our students and staff,” NSWSPC president, Craig Petersen, told The Educator.
A vaccination hub at Fairfield Showground will begin operating this Friday, and NSW Health vaccination clinics and centres will now begin making the AstraZeneca vaccine available to people aged over 40.
In her 11am press conference on Monday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the length of the lockdown will depend on the number of people doing the right thing.
“Given where the numbers are, it is not likely, in fact almost impossible, for us to get out of lockdown on Friday,” the Premier said.
“The length of the lockdown will depend on our ability to come together and to follow the health advice”.
However, this advice appears to be falling on deaf ears for many.
Since lockdown was initiated on 25 June, case numbers have been steadily rising, including the number of people infectious whilst in the community.
Many non-essential businesses, such as clothing retailers, jewellers and furniture stores remain fully open to the public, even in southwest Sydney’s COVID-19 hotspots.