UPDATE: NSW LOCKDOWN EXTENDED FOR ANOTHER SEVEN DAYS
NSW Health has admitted a mistake saw more than 100 students given the Pfizer vaccine while older Australians struggle to even book an appointment.
Reports emerged on Tuesday that some 160 pupils from St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill had recently received their first dose against COVID.
Principal Ross Tarlinton, in a statement supplied to 7NEWS.com.au, confirmed the students were inoculated in May.
He said it was because some of their students were boarders from Indigenous communities – where those over the age of 16 are eligible for the vaccine.
However, NSW Health has since responded to admit it was an error to administer the vaccine to the wider group of Year 12 boarders.
Dr Teresa Anderson, the Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District, said it was agreed the Indigenous Australian students would be vaccinated through the state health system at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s vaccination hub.
“Through an error, the wider group of boarders in Year 12, a total of 163 students, were also vaccinated,” she said.
“Sydney Local Health District apologises for this error.”
Tarlinton earlier said the school approached NSW Health to inquire whether its students could receive their vaccine.
The reason given was that a “large number of boys” live in a residential community, which includes boys from “rural, remote and Indigenous communities”.
According to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, four per cent of the school’s 1092 students identify as Indigenous.
“The approval and administration of the vaccine was endorsed and managed by NSW Health through the Sydney Local Health District,” Tarlinton said in a statement.
“The College proceeded to make arrangements for the administration of the approved vaccine at a centre determined by NSW Health.”
He added that the College does not determine vaccine priority but “welcomed the opportunity to offer the vaccine for students”.
“The College will continue to encourage and support members of its community to receive the appropriate vaccine as the opportunity arises.”
News of the students’ inoculations comes after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard likened the fight for doses of the vaccine to the dystopian movie and book series The Hunger Games, in which competitors fight to the death for food and resources.
“Until we get enough vaccine and enough GPs actually at the frontline able to provide that vaccine into arms, we will continue to have effectively The Hunger Games going on here in NSW,” he said on Monday.
On Tuesday, COVID-19 vaccine task force head John Frewen foreshadowed that under-40s could be offered the jab in September or October.
“On the current supply forecasts that we have then I think that’s when we’re getting closer to having greater choice,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“But I won’t tie myself to specific dates at this stage.”
State and federal health officials met on Tuesday to discuss issues with the rollout, including potential staff shortages.