22 Jun 2021

Papatoetoe parents mixed on Covid-19 vaccinations at school

From Checkpoint, 5:13 pm on 22 June 2021

Papatoetoe High School parents have mixed views on whether schools should shoulder the load of vaccinating students. 

While some parents could not be happier about the prospect of their kids being vaccinated, Checkpoint found some vaccine hesitancy among those doing the after-school run on Tuesday afternoon. 

Papatoetoe High School on Thursday 18 February.

Photo: RNZ / Kate Gregan

Children aged 12 to 15 will likely soon be able to get the Pfizer vaccine, after MedSafe gave the all clear. The government is expected to sign off on the approval later this month.

Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault said it would take a lot of time and resources to roll out a school vaccine programme. 

Not long ago, the secondary school was a hotspot during one of Auckland's community Covid-19 outbreaks, with a family connected to the school contracting the virus. 

Security ramps up ahead of Covid-19 testing at Papatoetoe High School on 23 February.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Huge white tents were set up so students could be tested, but today Checkpoint returned in rosier times. 

Most parents were certainly happy to hear children as young as 12 could soon get the jab. 

"Oh yeah, we'll definitely get the whole family done, so me, my wife, my three kids," one parent said.

"We're definitely going to do it." 

Others doing Tuesday's after-school run said they had done their homework and were more than happy for their children to get the jab.

"It's safe, it's precautious," another parent said. 

"If they get vaccinated, then we can secure them from these type of viruses in the future." 

Dig a little deeper however and it becomes apparent there remains some vaccine hesitancy among parents in Auckland's south.

"[I'm] not sure, because some people say that the vaccine is not good for kids," one parent told Checkpoint.  

Another parent spoken said while their kids would be vaccinated, freedom of choice remained important. 

"We all have our own thinking, we've got a brain, so use it," he said. "If you want to get it done, you get it done. If you don't want to get done, you don't get it done." 

The role of high schools 

Papatoetoe High School has already shown it can set up walk-in testing stations. What about vaccine stations? Most parents are saying "yes please". 

"[It's] more efficient rather than we are taking them with us and standing there in queues," one mother told Checkpoint

Security ramps up ahead of Covid-19 testing at Papatoetoe High School on 23 February.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

"It's better to have it done in the school so it will be easier for their kids as well," a young father said.

Some said it was parents' personal responsibility to get their kids vaccinated, not the school's job. 

"Each individual, each family should be held accountable for their own actions that they … should make arrangements with their family doctor to get it done."