Senate debates

Monday, 9 August 2021


COVID-19: Vaccination

1:52 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

The delta variant is changing the way we think about COVID and children. It's transmitting to children more easily and making them sicker. As we've seen in Queensland and New South Wales, schools are a perfect vehicle for the transmission of the delta variant. The risk profile of schools has changed, and it's critical that the government keeps up.

Vaccination is an essential tool to protect young people from COVID. There are around five million children in Australia under the age of 16 who aren't eligible to be vaccinated, aside from a few groups that have been prioritised by ATAGI. Unfortunately, the government has fallen short by only including people aged 16 and above in its vaccination targets. Vaccinating 70 per cent of people aged 16 and over actually equates to a mere 56 per cent of the whole population. This will leave our kids vulnerable to COVID outbreaks.

Australian experts and Dr Anthony Fauci are urging us to start vaccinating children to protect them from catching and transmitting the virus. There are a considerable number of young people in the US and the UK who are infected and seriously ill from COVID. We must do everything we can to ensure our kids, teenagers and young people are protected from COVID at all costs.

I simply cannot understand why the government doesn't get the fact that we need to protect our children. If we do not include the whole population in our target, we will not reach a point where we have 80 per cent of the whole population vaccinated. That is critical. If we open up too soon there will be a vast increase in the number of people who are affected by COVID and our population will suffer increased deaths. We need to include children in our vaccination numbers and make sure that they have access to vaccines.


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