An education minister has refused to rule out whether university students will need to be double vaccinated in order to attend lectures this autumn.
Earlier this week it was reported that the government is planning an autumn “freshers’ jab campaign” in an attempt to increase vaccine uptake among the youngest groups in time for the winter when NHS pressure will increase. On the back of that, it’s understood the government is now considering a requirement for students to be fully vaccinated to attend lectures or stay in halls of residence.
Children’s minister Vicky Ford was repeatedly quizzed about the potential policy. Initially, when asked about the plans on Sky News, she replied “no” – but neither did she take the opportunity to rule it out.
On the BBC’s Today programme Ms Ford said:
“Obviously, I can’t comment on things that haven’t been announced. But one does need to look at every practicality to make sure that we can get students back safely and make sure that we can continue to prioritise education.”
Boris Johnson is said to have proposed the idea after “raging” at lower vaccination rates among younger people, but if the government was to push ahead with the plans it’s likely they would receive significant opposition.
Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said:
“This is wrong-headed. It’s like something out of Huxley’s Brave New World. Where does this stop? Do we fire apprentices who have not had the vaccine? Do we remove older students from further education colleges? Do we close down adult education courses where adults have not had the vaccine? I sincerely hope not.”