‘Ask schools to report uptake, or make jabs a must’

Pro-government lawmakers on Friday urged the government to require schools to report their Covid-19 vaccination rates regularly, with some saying the jabs should be made mandatory for teachers.

The government earlier revealed that only about 18 percent of teachers have received the jabs as of early May, according to information provided by some 2,000 schools.

Speaking at a Legco meeting, education secretary Kevin Yeung said even though he doesn’t have the latest data, he believes more teachers have since been vaccinated.

But legislators weren’t happy with his response, with the DAB’s Elizabeth Quat saying officials need to put their foot down by giving teachers only two options: vaccination or regular testing.

“I heard a lot of parents say if they allow their kids to get vaccinated and they cannot have a normal school life because some teachers don’t get vaccinated, it’s unfair to them. I think it’s reasonable for us to … ask all teachers and staff in schools to have vaccination because it’s their responsibility to protect the students,” she said.

Others, such as Priscilla Leung from the Business and Professionals Alliance, said schools should be required to report on their latest vaccination figures.

But the education chief said there is no urgency for the government to collect such data.

“Schools would need to collect figures from students, parents and teachers regularly. That would amount to a certain kind of workload. And are we expecting various sectors in society to do the same? Is it what the government should do? Why should we just target the education sector?” Yeung questioned.

“If we give them the choice in relation to vaccination, if we are not making it compulsory, then we must respect their right to choose. If we were to ask schools why the teachers did not receive the jabs, is that a violation of our premise of right to choose for the teachers?”

Meanwhile, an outreach team has been sent to a Tin Shui Wai school on Friday to provide jabs for around 300 teachers and students.

The minister responsible for the city’s vaccination programme, Patrick Nip, said things went smoothly, adding that authorities are ironing out inoculation arrangements with around 300 other schools across the territory.

He said the aim is to vaccinate as many students as possible so that schools can resume normal teaching after the summer break.