Monday, April 15, 2024
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Students should not be coerced into Covid vaccination


A COUPLE of weeks ago we published a letter from Queen’s University Medical School in Belfast to its medical students which all but made it a requirement for students to get vaccinated to complete all aspects of their course. Since then we have heard from a number of distressed parents and students at various institutions revealing a much wider problem of coercive vaccination for students. It’s not just prospective doctors, but nurses and physios who are being subjected to this coercive pressure and being told they can’t take or complete their course unless they get jabbed.

This is despite the recent rollback of several Covid restrictions including Covid passes. Universities and students continue to be put under enormous pressure from their higher education bosses to see to it that students are vaccinated and told that is both a public safety and ‘duty’ requirement. See below, for example, how the Welsh Government frame both question and answer in their guidance to students, omitting any mention of the fact that at their age students are at no serious risk from Covid-19 let alone the Omicron variant. 

Q: How can I feel safe at university with the Omicron variant?

A: The most effective way to manage personal risk is to take up the offer of vaccination. All those eligible should get two doses of the vaccine and when invited, get their booster as a priority to have increased protection. Taking this responsibility and becoming vaccinated means that as well as protecting ourselves we are considerate of others. This will help us all to get back to doing the things we’ve missed the most. It is never too late to get the vaccine and walk-in centres are open to all, including international students. 

There you have it. The official narrative, the official perspective.

The Department for Education likewise in its most recent ‘Guidance’ is still pressuring higher education providers to encourage student vaccination. It tells them that they should have ‘communications strategies for students and staff, which will include principles such as [encouraging] students to take up the offer of both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and the booster jab as soon as they are eligible’. 

They inform the universities of the checklist of ‘communications’ they must prepare. This includes making sure that ‘Students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and know how to get a Covid-19 vaccine.’ Covid-related ‘behavioural expectations’ for students are clearly set out, including ‘continuing to behave responsibly’. This pressure comes down the line, directed first at the universities and then from the universities (in order, no doubt, to tick their own compliance boxes) to the student body. It is not difficult to see how parents and students come to succumb to it, even against their better judgment, in fear of wasted investment and blighted careers before they start.

Not one of these official publications sets out the balance of risk for students between taking and not taking the jab. Not one explains the vaccine’s limited efficacy against infection or transmission. Appallingly, that the vaccine may not be in students’ short-term or long-term health interests is not even considered.

That is why the Together Declaration’s latest campaign in support of university students to stop this vaccination coercion in order to continue their education is so welcome. What they ask us all to do is to write to the vice chancellors of the main universities. You can copy the text from this letter into an email and then BCC (important that you BCC, not CC) this list of names and send it. If you want to be more personal and diligent you can contact the vice chancellors separately and by name, which you can find here. 

If you are on Twitter and any other social media, please tweet this graphic.

‘I contacted all vice chancellors at the main universities today. We hope they will do the right thing and will not be insisting on vaccination as a condition of education. 

@UniversitiesUK we hope you will also be pushing institutions to allow freedom of choice’.

Government and universities have no business either to be encouraging students (many of whom will have had and recovered from Covid) to be guinea pigs or to be making vaccination a condition of education. You can tweet that too!

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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