Culture

NSW Health Swears They Vaccinated 163 Private School Boys “In Error” And No One’s Buying It

"Nothing says modern Australia like wealthy private school boys taking vaccines meant for Indigenous kids."

st joseph's college pfizer vaccine private school boys "in error"

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While aged care and quarantine workers struggle to get vaccinated, news has emerged that 163 rich private school kids were “accidentally” given Pfizer shots that were meant for Indigenous students.

Yesterday, the Sydney Local Health District announced that 163 Year 12 students from St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill had been given Pfizer “in error” after the school inquired about vaccinating Indigenous students boarding at the school.

“Sydney Local Health District was approached by St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill in relation to the vaccination of Aboriginal students boarding at the school,” chief executive, Dr Teresa Anderson, explained.

“It was agreed that the Aboriginal students would be vaccinated through the state health system at Royal Prince Alfred hospital’s vaccination hub.”

“Through an error, the wider group of boarders in year 12, a total of 163 students, were also vaccinated. Sydney Local Health District apologises for this error.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s sources, the HSC students were “bussed to a vaccination centre at the end of the last term for their first shot” and will receive their second shot when school resumes in mid-July.

Despite approaching the Sydney Local Health District about vaccinations for Indigenous students boarding at the school, St Joseph’s College principal Ross Tarlinton told the publication that the “approval and administration of the vaccine” for all 163 students was “endorsed and managed by NSW Health”.

“The approval and administration of the vaccine was endorsed and managed by NSW Health through the Sydney Local Health District,” Ross Tarlinton said.

“Acknowledging that the college does not determine vaccination priority, it welcomed the opportunity to offer the vaccine for students given the approvals provided and for the reasons listed above.”

“St Joseph’s College takes advice from NSW Health and follows public health orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety of our school and local community remains a key priority in all college decision-making.”

An anonymous source backed these claims, telling the Herald that St Joseph’s College was “invited to send all boarders along for the jab” when the school asked about inoculating Indigenous students.

As it stands, there is currently a high demand for COVID-19 vaccines in NSW as Pfizer has only officially been rolled out to those aged 40 to 60, and to people in priority groups that are deemed high-risk, like frontline workers, people with disabilities, and Indigenous people over the age of 16.

So it seems too much of a coincidence that 163 students were able to be vaccinated “in error” at a private school where the yearly tuition is $50,000 for boarders, while teachers at St Joseph’s College — and throughout the state — have not been offered the same convenient “mistake”.

More concerningly, while healthy private school boys were able to cut in line for the vaccine, less than 40 percent of Australians in their 80s and 90s have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far.

In response to the news of private school students being able to jump the vaccine queue, while Australia’s most vulnerable and at-risk remain unvaccinated, the public were furious and quickly criticised the government.

Whether by error or finesse, the wealthy students of St Joseph’s College were able to take advantage of a vaccination program that was only meant for Aboriginal students — who only account for four percent of the students at the school. With news of the injustice happening in NAIDOC Week, no less.

Even Greens MP David Shoebridge added to the criticism, noting that other schools have far more vulnerable cohorts and communities — like Brewarrina Central School, who were not offered priority vaccination despite 97 percent of its students being Indigenous and living in cramped boarding houses.

“If the alleged reason St Joseph’s students got access to Pfizer was due to the risk of spreading COVID to Indigenous communities, then a far more effective solution would be to vaccinate those communities instead,” Shoebridge told the Herald. 

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos added that he was “speechless” that teachers were not “prioritised” and were left unvaccinated while St Joseph’s College students received their Pfizer jabs.

However, when asked whether the St Joseph’s College vaccination “error” was embarrassing for the government, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that “there was a mistake and so what?” and told reporters to “move on”.

“What I find more embarrassing is that you would make that sort of question and accusation against front-line health staff who work their butts off and will have tomorrow achieved one million vaccinations in arms,” Hazzard said during a press conference earlier today.

“You know what? The school intended it well. There was a mistake and so what? It’s happened. Out of a million vaccinations. Move on.”

So I guess the message is loud and clear: If you’re wealthy and privileged, you get first dibs. Or, at the very least, very convenient “mistakes” will always work in your favour then get brushed off by government officials.