Unvaxxed Year 12 students granted exemptions for formals

New South Wales has carved out a new Covid vaccine exemption for high school students, saying they “deserve” it after a “rough 18 months”.

Unvaccinated Year 12 students in New South Wales have been given the green light to attend their end of year school formals.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced on Thursday a new exemption for school-leavers who are yet to receive their vaccines.

Currently, unvaccinated people are unable to enter many public premises in NSW. Today Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed they would have to wait until December 15, or the 95 per cent double vaccination threshold – whichever comes first – to gain the same freedoms as the rest of society.

For now, state officials still believe the risk of having unvaccinated young people entering venues is too high. State-sanctioned exemptions are required for anybody without a jab.

Mr Hazzard said such an exemption would be granted for school formals.

“The HSC students of 2021 have had an incredibly tough 18 months, including substantial time without face-to-face teaching, and missing out on seeing friends and family,” the Health Minister said.

“They deserve to be able to party with their friends and enjoy one of the biggest celebrations of their life.”

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the exemption was a timely piece of good news for students who have been forced to undertake their final years of study under the stress of a pandemic.

“I am so happy that all Year 12 students can celebrate with each other at the end of an incredibly turbulent year,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Our Year 12 students have worked so hard and I want to commend them for the resilience they have displayed.”

Australia has begun a massive push to inoculate under-16s, clashing against the advice of WHO Director-General, who this month said it made “no sense” to vaccinate children while supplies were desperately needed in other countries.

According to the Department of Health, two people under the age of 19 have died with Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It makes no sense to give boosters to healthy adults, or to vaccinate children, when health workers, older people and other high-risk groups around the world are still waiting for their first dose. The exception, as we have said, is immunocompromised individuals,” the WHO chief said.

Despite having met previously set targets, NSW officials believe vaccination rates are too low in the state’s regional areas for interstate travel to resume as normal.

According to data from NSW Health, a small number of towns and postcodes still have a high number of unvaccinated residents compared with Greater Sydney.

According to the data, Wilcannia and Boggabilla in the NSW north west region have less than 50 per cent of eligible residents fully vaccinated.

In addition, the area of Murray Downs postcode 2734 on the NSW and Victorian border have the state’s lowest vaccination rate by far, with less than 30 per cent of eligible residents fully vaccinated.

Wallaroo also has very low vaccination rates, with the postcode on the NSW and ACT border reporting less than 40 per cent of residents were fully vaccinated.

Originally published as Unvaccinated Year 12 students granted exemptions for end of year formals

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