Concerns have been raised about the ability of the state's vaccination system to actually fulfill a government pledge to ensure all Victorian year 12 students receive their COVID vaccinations before their final exams.
Victorian education minister James Merlino said the government had made it a "priority" to have all year 12 students vaccinated before they start exams on October 4, less than six weeks away.
But he failed to explain how the students would receive their vaccinations.
"I'm not making any announcements today," he said. "This is about sending a very strong message to year 12 students, particularly in their final months, giving them confidence and clarity that they can really tackle the last few months of study and give it their best shot."
The announcement came as the state's vaccine booking system struggled to cope with high traffic as more than 830,000 vaccination bookings became available at 7am for young Victorians aged 16 to 39.
At one point the booking site was receiving 50,000 hits per minute while 1.3 million people had tried to call the coronavirus vaccination hotline.
Ballarat mother of four Elisa Zentveld, whose daughter Chantelle is in year 12, was concerned that with the system already overloaded and people struggling to make bookings, the promise to VCE students could not be fulfilled unless the vaccinations were rolled out quickly through schools.
"The problem isn't the desire, the problem is availability of stock and appointments," Dr Zentveld said.
She had been able to book vaccine appointments for her daughter through a clinic before appointments opened on Wednesday at state-run vaccine hubs including the Mercure in Ballarat, but Chantelle will have only had one of the two required jabs before her exams.
"She won't be fully vaccinated by the exams deadline because there wasn't availability of appointments," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS
"If they are really committed to facilitating this then there would need to be an arrangement through schools, which does happen for some other vaccines ... because parents will be struggling to meet that deadline not through lack of interest or lack of commitment but through lack of availability."
The timing of the pledge is tight in any case, with second Pfizer doses being given up to six weeks after the first, while the recommended gap between AstraZeneca doses is 12 weeks.
Exams start on Monday October 4 for some performance and language based subjects, with the bulk of the year 12 written exams running from October 27 to November 17.
Our team of local journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the Ballarat community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: