University students could need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to attend lectures and stay in halls this coming academic year.
“We aren’t ruling it out,” a senior government source told Sky News about the prospect of mandating COVID-19 vaccination passports for universities.
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According to a report in The Times newspaper, Boris Johnson is said to be “pushing” the idea.
The prime minister is “raging” at low vaccine uptake among young people and wants to apply pressure to increase the numbers coming forward for a jab, the report added.
But asked by Kay Burley on Sky News if students would need to be fully-vaccinated to enjoy a normal university experience, education minister Vicky Ford replied: “No. We must make sure we continue to prioritise education.”
Ms Ford did say that having two jabs would “minimise disruption” for students as they would then not have to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.
But the minister later appeared to contradict herself, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ministers will “look at every practicality to make sure that we can get students back safely and make sure that we can continue to prioritise education”.
And she told Times Radio: “We don’t want to go back to a situation where large parts of education were closed to many young people and children, and a key part of doing that is having that double-vaccinated population.
“So I think we need to continue to encourage our young people to step forward, have the vaccination, and that is the way that they can have that freedom and confidence that they’ll be able to have that full university life.”
Speaking in the Commons last week, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said vaccine passports could be introduced for sporting and business events, music venues and festivals in addition to nightclubs.
But he told MPs that individuals will not have to prove their COVID status – full vaccination, a recent negative test or evidence of natural immunity after recovering from the virus – to access schools and universities.
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It came after the government announced that providing proof of double vaccination will be required to enter nightclubs and other “crowded venues” from the end of September, with proof of a negative test not accepted.
A minister also did not explicitly rule out the prospect of the government requiring vaccine passports for people to go to pubs when quizzed by Sky News.
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