A statewide blitz to vaccinate eligible year 11 and 12 students ahead of final exams has been widely embraced with some south-west schools achieving a 100 per cent uptake.
Hawkesdale P-12 College principal Colan Distel said 100 per cent of its eligible year 12 VCE students had received their first COVID-19 vaccination dose.
It was a similar story at Warrnambool's Emmanuel College with principal Peter Morgan saying 95 per cent of its eligible VCE students had also received their first doses, with an additional 300 students receiving the jab on Friday.
He said anecdotally there was a high proportion of year 11 students who were already vaccinated or had made appointments.
Mr Morgan said 80 per cent of staff were either fully vaccinated, had received their first jab or had appointments booked for their first or second vaccination.
Mr Morgan said a strong response to vaccines "clearly indicates our college community supports COVID-19 vaccination" and it was unlikely it would require a policy of compulsory vaccinations.
South West Healthcare COVID-19 co-ordinator Sue Anderton said as of Monday there were 487 VCE students vaccinated as part of the blitz.
She said SWH provided walk in appointments and booked appointments at Camperdown and Warrnambool Vaccination Centres for the VCE student and teacher cohort. Of those 467 students took up the walk-in option and 20 students booked online. South West Healthcare ran an outreach clinic at Hawkesdale P-12 College vaccinating 24 students and teachers.
The Standard asked south-west secondary school principals if they would follow Melbourne's Xavier College, which announced this month that it would be mandatory for staff to be fully vaccinated by the start of next term.
"The college recognises the personal and communal benefits of vaccination and encourages staff, parents and eligible students, including young people aged 12-15, being vaccinated," Mr Morgan said.
At Hawkesdale, Mr Distal said 100 per cent of staff would be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks and staff felt it was "important to do our bit to get out of lockdown and look after others in our community including, importantly, kids."
To help support the safe conduct of end-of-year exams, the Victorian Government has announced a vaccination blitz from September 7 - 17, for final year school students, their teachers and for VCE exam supervisors and assessors.
The region's schools have worked with South West Healthcare Vaccination Clinic for appointments, with schools agreeing to prioritise students with the earliest exams. These are the exams that occur between October 4 and 20. The General Achievement Test is on October 5.
A Department of Education and Training spokesman said all Victorian teachers and school staff were eligible for a coronavirus vaccination. "We encourage them all to get the jab as soon as possible to protect themselves, their school communities, and get Victoria closer to our vaccination targets," he said.
Vaccinations are not currently mandated for school staff, and the education workforce is not currently required to declare vaccination status.
The department has confirmed unvaccinated students will be permitted to sit their final exams.
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"The Victorian Government is prioritising VCE teachers and exam assessors with a priority vaccination blitz, but schools have also been asked to put arrangements in place to maximise the opportunity for all employees to get vaccinated," the spokesman said.
Warrnambool College opted not to comment on its vaccination rate due to confidentiality.
Brauer College acting assistant principal Hugh Richards said it couldn't give figures, also due to confidentiality.
"What I would say, anecdotally, is when I was promoting the VCE walk up vaccinations there was heaps of enthusiasm from students, staff and parents," Mr Richards said. "Many of the parents contacted had already got their kids vaccinated so that's really positive. My feeling was that it's been well taken up," Mr Richards said.
Camperdown's Mercy Regional College principal Sharon Gillett said the vaccination rates were private information and not something the college was required to gather.
"South West Healthcare have arranged for priority access for senior students and staff wishing to be vaccinated in Camperdown. We continue to follow the advice of DHHS, DET and DOBCEL."
Kings College principal Allister Rouse said it did not have a mandatory vaccine policy for staff or students.
"If, like in NSW where the government has made Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for teachers, then the college would follow government guidelines," Mr Rouse said. "Regardless, many of our teachers are already vaccinated or are in the process of booking vaccinations.
He said the college supported the vaccine process by giving its staff time off to attend appointments. "My view is that schools have a duty of care to students and this extends to protecting their health and safety at school," Mr Rouse said.
The federal government announced on the weekend children aged 12 to 15 would be able to book a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine from Monday. It said it expected all children aged 12-18 would have access to a vaccine in 2021.
Ms Anderton said 12-15 year old were eligible to book appointments from today and there were currently limited appointments on the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS) via the South West Healthcare website.
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