Rotherham’s Director of Public Health, Ben Anderson, has given an update on how we can all support schools.
Last month the NHS rolled out COVID-19 jabs to children aged 12 to 15.
Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff via secondary and special schools, prior to vaccination, in line with existing school vaccination programmes.
Families do not need to contact the NHS to arrange their child’s vaccine, schools and providers will be in touch.
Anderson said: “As a father myself I recognise the significant educational, social and developmental value that face-to-face education offers and the need to reduce the disruption of last year. However, with Covid-19 case rates high across the borough and the highest they have been in school aged children throughout the pandemic I also recognise the risks this poses both to children, and to their families.
“We are currently seeing high Covid-19 transmission within all communities in Rotherham, and this includes within our school communities. Schools are working hard to reduce the risks without impacting on face-to-face education, and to provide support to those children who do become positive and are required to isolate.”
Children showing symptoms should not go to school and take a PCR test immediately. If a child tests positive then they are still legally required to self-isolate at home for ten days, and people they have been in contact with are recommended to book a PCR test too.
Not all cases of Covid-19 will display symptoms, and this is especially the case in children. This is why secondary school children are being asked to take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) twice a week, to help identify cases early and prevent transmission.
Anderson added: “Testing and isolation play a part in reducing transmission, but in the long term, as we have seen with adults, it is the vaccination programme that will have the biggest impact. Vaccination is now being offered to all children aged 12 to 15 through schools and is available to 16 and 17-year-olds through primary care.
“In Rotherham over 20% of children aged 12 to 15 have already been vaccinated through the school-based vaccination programme. This will continue to be rolled out throughout the current term.
“The vaccine has been approved for use in children aged 12 and above and is a safe and effective way of reducing their risk of infection and their likelihood of requiring hospitalisation with Covid-19, as well as reducing the chances of further disruption to their education. Vaccination will also reduce the likelihood of them transmitting Covid-19 to others, reducing the risk of spread into households and to more vulnerable older adults that we are currently seeing.”