Nearly 60,000 Australians in one week have signed a petition against a state-wide vaccination deadline for educators in New South Wales (NSW) by Nov. 8.
In late August, the state government released its plan to see a staggered return of students to classrooms from kindergarten and Year One on Oct. 25 to all students by November.
The petition on change.org has received 58,307 signatures so far as of Sept. 6 and calls for teachers not to be forced to take COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We believe this is not only unlawful but unconstitutional,” it read. “People should be able to choose what medical procedures and interventions they have without the risk of losing their job.”
“We ask all parents and teachers who are concerned with these mandates to sign this petition and protect the basic human right to freedom of choice.”
As of this week, NSW Health will begin providing priority vaccination for educators.
“Early childcare staff will also be able to participate in the priority vaccinations from 6 September. All school and early childcare staff are also encouraged to make use of the GP network to be vaccinated with whatever vaccine is available as soon as possible,” a NSW Health statement read.
“A recent survey of the public-school workforce indicated the majority of staff already had at least one dose of a vaccine.”
The federal and state governments (NSW and Victoria) are pinning their hopes on improving vaccination rates as a means to control the spread of COVID-19, and move the country away from relying on harsh lockdown measures and restrictions.
The National Cabinet—an intergovernmental body involving the prime minister and state and territory leaders—agreed on a four-stage vaccination roadmap in late July.
The country is currently in Phase A and is working towards vaccinating 70 percent of the population. This will trigger Phase B, which will see stay-at-home orders and restrictions largely removed around the country.
Once vaccination levels hit 80 percent, Phase C will be triggered, which will see the government open up international travel and “highly targeted” lockdowns in use only.
Last week, a petition which garnered over 100,000 signatures was submitted to the federal Parliament against the use of vaccines on Australians aged 12 to 15.