PARENTS have hit out after children at a North East school were left unvaccinated against Covid after it “ran out” of vaccines and said there were no plans for any further follow up sessions.

Frustrated parents have demanded answers after a number of pupils at Southmoor Academy in Sunderland were unable to obtain their vaccine during clinics three weeks ago.

The parents, who have been left in the dark on when their children will get the jab, have said pupils have been left with no alternative after being told there are no plans for “mop up” sessions.

Read more: North East schools urge Government for Covid vaccine support

Last night, the parents’ concerns were described as a “tragedy” by a body which represents schools in the region as the Government were urged to intervene and provide more support.

The Northern Echo: The Southmoor Academy in Sunderland Picture: GOOGLEThe Southmoor Academy in Sunderland Picture: GOOGLE

But speaking to The Northern Echo, one parent described the vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds as a “shambles” as they said pupils were unnecessarily missing out due to supply and timeframes.

They said: “My child didn’t get the jab because they said they didn’t hand the consent form in time, despite being given a days’ notice.

“A lot of other kids didn’t get theirs because they ran out of vaccines – and one of them caught Covid days later.”

'Not very organised'

The parent, who said they had contacted the school only to be told there were no plans for further follow up sessions, said pupils had been left in a state of “watch and wait.”

They said: “I don't think it is the school that's at fault, there are a lot of people who have said the same thing for other schools, but it just seems like it is 'watch and wait'.

"They’re pushing for teens to be vaccinated – but it just doesn’t seem very organised. I spoke to the school and they said there’s no plan for a mop up session.

“We got a letter via the school from the Secretary of State encouraging them to get the vaccination, but how can they do that if they don’t have plans to run further clinics.”

NHS guidance states that most 12 to 15 year olds should be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine in a school setting as they are unable to get their jab at a vaccination site, which is reserved for 16s and over. 

The Northern Echo:

'We will provide our full cooperation'

Last night, the school’s headteacher Mrs Maw suggested that it could not “complete the process” of vaccinating its consenting pupils until it received notification from the NHS.

She said: “We responded immediately to the request to distribute and collate Covid vaccine consent forms within the given timescales.

“Many vaccinations were administered as planned however we are aware that the NHS immunisation team were unable to vaccinate all students who had provided consent within the time available.

“As soon as our colleagues in the NHS inform us of any plans to return to complete the process, we will again provide our full cooperation.”

The Northern Echo: Maura Regan, head of Carmel College, Darlington which will become an Academy....

'A tragedy'

But Schools North East, which is made up of headteachers from across the region, slammed a “frustrating lack” of support from the Government in the rollout to pupils.

Dame Maura Regan, Schools North East Trustee, said: "The biggest issue that I’ve dealt with is not that parents aren’t consenting.

"It’s the fact that they are either running out of vaccines or they are running out of time.

"So we’ve got parents that have consented but their children haven’t had their vaccination, which is a tragedy."

The concerns comes as ONS figures showed around one in 15 children in years 7 to 11 in England are estimated to have had Covid in the week to October 2.

In response, health bosses overseeing the rollout of the vaccine to schools in the North East last night said “all eligible children” will be given the opportunity in coming weeks.

A spokesperson for the Covid-19 Vaccination programme for the North East and North Cumbria said: “It’s encouraging to see the number of parents who are providing consent for their children to be vaccinated.

“Local school’s immunisation services are working hard to provide vaccination clinics at schools across Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead and we’d like to reassure parents that all eligible children who wish to have the vaccine will have the opportunity to do so in the coming weeks. 

“We will continue to work with schools to schedule further visits and massively appreciate the support we continue to receive from head teachers and parents.”

The Department of Health said there is not a shortage of vaccines and that there are more than enough for all 12 to 15 year olds as well as those eligible for boosters.


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