Colleges in Portsmouth area will urge students to 'grab a jab' as the new term starts
COLLEGES and sixth forms around the Portsmouth area will be leading from the front in the fight against Covid by encouraging eligible 16 and 17-year-old students to get vaccinated as the new term begins.
Principals say they are ‘committed’ to getting vaccination rates up this September, including considering pop-up vaccine sites on campus.
Since coronavirus vaccines were first made available to the age group last month 51.8 per cent of people aged 16 to 17 in Portsmouth have had at least one jab.
This is higher than the average across England of 48.6 per cent of 16 to 17-year-olds, according to the latest government figures that go up to September 4.
Andy Grant, the principal of St Vincent College in Gosport, said: ‘We are committed to supporting the vaccination rollout to our students and have already shared information regarding local walk-in centres with parents and carers.
‘All students will be encouraged and supported to access the vaccine programme should they choose to be vaccinated.
‘Awareness raising activities and further information will be shared with students as part of their return to college inductions next week with home testing kits provided to all members of the college community.
‘We are happy to host a pop-up vaccine centre and we are aware that this is something the local authority is reviewing.’
And Mike Gaston, the principal and chief executive officer of Havant and South Down College, said: ‘During our welcome week last week, all HSDC students were encouraged to get vaccinated.
‘We will continue to promote this message when term starts on Monday, and the college is currently in discussions about hosting pop-up vaccination centres on our campuses.’
It comes as The News launched its Grab a Jab campaign this year to encourage people to get vaccinated.
In Havant 54.7 per cent of people aged 16 and 17 have had at least one vaccine and in Gosport 54.8 per cent in the age group have.
Fareham has seen the highest numbers of 16 to 17-year-olds vaccinated with 68.4 per cent having had at least one dose.
There have already been efforts made to attract the younger generation to get a vaccine, including a pop-up station at Victorious festival, one at Mr Miyagi’s bar in Guildhall Walk, and vaccination sessions at fire stations and at Fratton Park.
Helen Atkinson, the city’s director of public health, said it was the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid, and long Covid.
‘With Covid-19 vaccinations now open to 16 and 17 year olds we have a real opportunity to better protect this age group, as well as their friends and family, from the virus,’ she said.
‘If you've been invited to have your vaccination, I would urge you to get your first dose as soon as possible. The vaccines are safe and effective and are the best way to protect yourselves and others from coronavirus and the risk of long Covid.
‘If you’re aged 16 or 17, there are two ways you can get a vaccine - through a local NHS service, such as a GP surgery and some local walk-in vaccination sites, like St James' Hospital, are also offering the vaccine to this age group.
‘You don’t need to be accompanied by an adult or need permission from an adult if you’re aged 16 or 17.’
Roger Batterbury, chairman of Healthwatch Portsmouth, added: ‘Healthwatch Portsmouth encourages each of the city's 16 and 17-year-olds, who are able to have the vaccination, to get a jab at an NHS vaccination centre by telephoning 119, going to a (no-appointment necessary) walk-in hub or make an appointment at their GP surgery.
‘The importance of getting jabbed is for everyone’s health – whether for themselves, their friends or family.
‘Our advice is that coronavirus remains a serious health risk, we advise people to stay cautious to help protect themselves and others.’
To book a vaccine call 119 or visit nhs.uk.