Pupil Covid jabs to begin as schools told to call police over protests
- Credit: PA
Widespread Covid vaccination of under-16s are set to begin in Norfolk schools this week with headteachers given guidance on how to deal with protests.
Children aged 12 to 15 will be offered their first dose of the Pfizer jab, with sessions taking place in schools.
The Norfolk programme is being overseen by the Hertfordshire and East Anglia Community and School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS).
It said letters have now been sent to all parents and carers of all eligible children via their schools seeking consent for the vaccination of their child.
“We have already started the vaccination of the 12-15-year-old cohort in special educational needs school settings - the first of 2 doses,” a spokesman said.
“From next week we also plan to deliver a single dose of the same Pfizer vaccine to mainstream schools.”
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While parental or carer consent will be sought, where agreement can not be reached, children can give consent themselves if considered "competent".
Controversy over vaccinating under-16s has prompted concerns schools could be targeted by campaigners.
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The UK Health Security Agency said it was aware some schools have been receiving campaign letters and emails with "misinformation" about the vaccine programme.
Its new guidance says schools should alert the SAIS team, local authority and police in the event of protests or disruptive activity, or if they learn a protest is being planned.
Heads and teachers have also been advised "not to engage directly" with campaigners.
Former local head Geoff Barton, now general secretary of the ASCL headteachers union, said: "We are very concerned about the possibility of protests being held outside schools, and we are pleased to see that the guidance references this and provides advice about how to respond to this threat.
"Frankly, however, it is a sorry state of affairs if any individuals or groups think it is helpful in any way to stage a protest outside a school over a vaccine programme which is designed to help reduce educational disruption and which seems to us to be in the best interests of children and young people.
"We implore people not to stage such protests."
• Any parent or carer of a child aged 12 to 15 who has queries about the vaccination programme should email firstname.lastname@example.org