University students will get “advance warning” if they are required to have vaccines before moving to halls of residence, Dominic Raab has said, as reported by BBC.
The foreign secretary said decisions will be taken in September – but he was keen to encourage vaccine uptake.
More than 70% of adults have now had both jabs, and Mr. Raab said “we need to close that margin”.
Currently, the government plans to require two jabs to go to nightclubs and other crowded venues in England.
The full details of the plan are yet to be seen, but the rule is set to come into force at the end of September. An NHS Covid Pass – which you can obtain electronically or as a letter – will be used as proof.
When asked whether they were planning to require students in university halls to get vaccinated, Mr. Raab said: “When we come to the crunch, these decisions will be taken in September. We’ve got some time to go.
“We will certainly make sure university students have advance warning, of course, we’re going to be mindful of this.”
The latest government figures show that more than 71% of adults have now had two jabs, while 88% have had the first dose.
Young people who are within three months of turning 18 – meaning those who are soon able to go to university – and those aged 12-17 who live with people who have a suppressed immune system, can now also get a jab.
The idea to make vaccines compulsory for university students – either to attend lectures or to live in halls of residence – was not ruled out by either education minister Vicky Ford or Downing Street when asked about it earlier this week.
“We are still looking at the scope for vaccination certifications,” a No 10 spokesman said on Monday.
It is not clear if any rule if it happens, would apply just to England or be adopted by the whole of the UK – the governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own coronavirus rules and education is devolved.
Earlier this week, the trade union for academic staff such as lecturers, criticized the idea following news reports.
“Students should be prioritized for vaccinations, to ensure as many as possible have the opportunity to be vaccinated by September,” said the University and College Union.
“But making vaccinations compulsory as a condition to accessing their education is wrong and would be hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to be vaccinated, and international students.”
The National Union of Students also called the idea “appalling”, saying there has been “no consultation whatsoever with the sector”.
“All the students I speak with are incredibly eager to get their vaccinations – if anything they would like them bringing forwards so that they’ve had both doses before the term begins,” said president Larissa Kennedy.
Both Labour and leading universities have called for vaccination centers to be set up on campuses so that students are jabbed before the winter.
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