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March 1, 2024

Teachers have a mixed response to news of mandatory vaccinations

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We rely on our school teachers to help educate our children – five days a week we send them off before 9am and don’t see them again until after 3pm, trusting that they have nurtured thousands upon thousands of little minds, bodies and hearts.

For the absolute most part, Australia’s teachers are a bunch of stellar guardians of future generations – and we are always indebted to them for that – but last week many teachers felt betrayed after the announcement that New South Wales teachers will need to be vaccinated as part of the ‘road map’ to getting students back in school, and some teachers are feeling terribly let down and bullied.

There was little detail to the announcement apart from it being implemented from November 9.

The Echo spoke to secondary, primary school and TAFE teachers in both the public and private sectors. These people teach in the Ballina, Byron, Kingscliff and Lismore areas and we also spoke to a teacher from the Sydney area.

All of the teachers chose to remain anonymous.

Confidence in vaccinations

One of the teachers said they have confidence in vaccinations generally. ‘Especially when they have been rigorously tried and tested over a number of yearsaround ten years of research and clinical trials used to be the norm for new vaccinations before the pandemic hit. My three school-aged children have had all the usual vaccinations.’

Three of the teachers said they were not happy about the prospect of the COVID vaccination being made mandatory for teachers.

‘I don’t feel good about it at all,’ said the Lismore teacher. ‘Teachers have been routinely disrespected by the NSW government, and this is another case in point. Teachers should be relied upon to use their own judgement to determine what is best for them, their families and their community.

‘Anecdotally, the percentage of teachers who have already availed themselves of the opportunity to get vaccinated is quite high, and this decision appears to have been made without consultation with teachers or knowledge of what that proportion is.

‘It’s another knee-jerk decision by a government struggling to come to grips with its own poor handling of the situation.’

‘Disgusted, replaceable and appalled’

One of the Byron teachers said they felt disgusted, replaceable and appalled. ‘The Department of Education’s Core Values include, Trust, Integrity and Equity. Within these they state that: “We are transparent with information and our decisions. We respect others’ expertise, experience and points of view and listen with an open mind. We respect diversity and the views and contributions of others. We treat people fairly.” I suggest you put the idea of terminating someone’s job due to their valid concerns with the vaccine options in your mind, and re-read the values the Department of Education prides itself on.

‘I cannot see how they are representing themselves, let alone their employees with any sense of pride whilst mandatorily forcing individuals to have a vaccine they do not want injected into their bodies.

‘There are experts within the fields of medicine, immunology, virology and so forth, who warn against the particular vaccines that we have available to us in Australia between now and the cut off date for the mandatory injections. Not only that, but our own government’s database for adverse event notifications has several hundred reported “cases where death was the reported outcome” amongst several thousand reports of other adverse events.

‘How dare our government force us to choose between taking these risks ourselves and keeping our jobs.  

‘There are vaccinations such as Novavax or even an Australian company Vaxine, still in developmental stages – that show promising signs of being safer alternatives.

‘It is unfair that under duress, we will have to make our decision before these options become available.’  

Not enough time to have their opinions heard

Many teachers heard the news in an email from the Department of Education on Friday. One teacher said they heard through the media when it was announced. ‘Then the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, Georgina Harrison, sent a tokenistic email to all staff. Better late than never, right?’

On teacher said there was a staff survey sent out the day before, which they responded to on Friday morning. ‘There is no way that the results of this survey could have had any bearing on the government decision.’

Not against vaccination

For the most part, the teachers we spoke to were not against vaccinations per se but were not happy about this vaccination regime at this time. ‘I have been weighing the pros and cons, and for now, have decided to be cautious and not risk vaccination at this time,’ said the Lismore teacher. ‘I am in good health generally and trust my immune system. I may change my mind down the track when we have more data about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.’

One of the Byron teachers said they were open to potentially getting vaccinations that will be available at a later date. ‘I will not have Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines injected into my body, no matter how much they try to control my life or coerce my decisions, I will not cave into their demands.’

A Kingscliff teacher who is fully vaccinated said they didn’t think mandatory vaccination was necessary. ‘It’s easier though. It’s going to be quite the logistical nightmare for each student or parent to have to be consulted about whether or not they want to be in a class with a non-vaccinated teacher.’

A Sydney point of view

The Greater Sydney area certainly has more to worry about than the regions as far as the number of cases they are seeing each day. We spoke to a Sydney high school teacher who says for their part they feel teachers are not supported enough. ‘Having children at home who are studying online and trying to teach online classes all day is an impossible task.’

They also said that they think vaccinations are a privilege. I think mandatory COVID vaccinations are critically important, excluding people who have genuine health issues to not vaccinate.’

This teacher said they found out through the NSW minister’s announcement to media about the mandatory jab and there had been no prior consultation or surveying before the announcement. 

They said a lack of equity in the vaccine rollout is unfair. ‘Mandatory vaccination itself is not an issue of fairness. It is a moral issue, in the sense that if I were not vaccinated and a child in my care became sick because of my actions, that would be devastating. If my own child was at risk because a teacher was unvaccinated, then that teacher – putting aside the few who are genuinely unable to be vaccinated – has placed the value of their own life and their personal beliefs over the welfare of others.

My biggest worry in regards to the news is the lack of consultation. It feeds fears and conspiracy theories. My greatest annoyance is the inconsistent messaging such as the ill-considered proposal for year 12 to go back to face to face learning before both teachers and students could be fully vaccinated.’

Prepared to lose their jobs

Two of the North Coast teachers we interviewed said they were prepared to lose their jobs rather than be made to have the vaccination. ’It’s a tough call. I love my job and have to support my family. But on principle, I am seriously considering leaving the profession if it becomes “no jab, no job”’. Not good news for a profession that is already experiencing chronic staff shortages.

The youngest teacher in the group said that against their will, they [the Education Department] will terminate their permanent job on November 9. ‘This will happen through no fault of my own. I have no one standing by me to fight this fight. I signed, what I thought to be, a legally binding contract to accept my position with the Department of Education. I can assure you that, nowhere in this document does it state that I need to be fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines to fulfil my role.’

Vaccination fears

One teacher said that enforcing mandatory vaccination feels like an incremental step towards coercing the entire population to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which may not be a wise move. ‘The vaccines are not a silver bullet and we are still in the very early stages of research and development. There are valid concerns about serious side effects – including risk of death, the unknown long-term effects, and the concern that vaccinating everyone will just make things worse by causing the proliferation of virulent new vaccine-resistant mutations of the virus.’

Another said their fears regard the actual efficacy of the two current vaccine options vs their ability to potentially recover from a COVID-19 infection. ‘I am not, in any way, saying I will not be open to vaccination. I am asking for more time, more transparent information, and more long term data on the impact these vaccines can have. My fears now are also centred on my future. My plans for a family, my plans to live in the house that I own and my future with financial and job security.

‘My reality now, due to this mandate, is that I will need to move in with my family as I can not afford my mortgage when my employment is terminated. My dreams of starting a family are pushed back until, if ever, I am in a financial situation to again live in the house I worked so hard for. This has set a disgusting example for our students.

‘I do not feel supported. Not by my Principal, not by the Department of Education, not by the Teaching Federation and certainly not by the government. My cries for mental health support to my superior at my school have fallen on deaf ears.’

A TAFE teacher said they were unsure about taking the risk of getting the AstraZeneca vaccination. ‘I was relieved when I was offered the Pfizer, when the age bracket changed to cover people in their 50s. My partner works in a quarantine hotel so I was keen to be vaccinated, but still put off by the AZ blood clotting story. I know the risks are higher of dying from COVID, but was very glad about getting the option to have Pfizer.’

A very difficult time for teachers

A Lismore High School teacher said it’s a very difficult time for teachers, as it is for everyone. ‘We feel disconnected from our students and from each other. Remote learning is not optimal, and we are painfully aware that it is the students who are most in need of our guidance and support who are dropping off the radar and not engaging with their school work at all. We are getting by the best we can, but no, I don’t feel we are adequately supported.

As teachers, we are trained in how to support the mental health of young people, and agency – the ability to make their own decisions about important matters affecting their lives – is key. So whatever the relative merits of vaccination, taking this decision out of teachers’ hands will foster feelings of powerlessness and consequent poor mental health – the last thing we need during these tough times.

‘I also add that confidence in the current state government could not be any lower. Every day at official press conferences we see Brad Hazzard – many of us in the Northern Rivers remember him as the guy who attempted to force CSG and fracking on our region, and Gladys Berejiklian – who failed in her duty to declare the conflict of interest of her intimate relationship with disgraced colleague Daryl Maguire. These are not the people you want to be trusting with such important decisions during these challenging times.’

Protests and strikes

Some of the teachers we spoke to said they were prepared to take part in actions, including protests and strikes up to and including losing their jobs rather than be forced into getting vaccinated. ‘Yes I would join in, depending on the nature of the action. I would certainly take strike action, and I hope the NSW Teachers Federation comes on board to support the right of educators to make this important decision for themselves,’ said one teacher.

Another said they would like to join in an action planned for Tuesday but they already had something special planned for their students at that time. ‘I won’t let them miss out, so I will, unfortunately, need to skip this action. Our federation has wiped their hands clean of us so they won’t be supporting or organising any type of protest.’

Since the announcement was made on Friday the premier has been asked on several occasions if teachers who refuse to be vaccinated will lose their jobs and each time she has repeatedly sidestepped the question, saying ‘we are working through those issues’.

Support from the community

One teacher asked for support from the community. ‘If any of this resonates with you, make sure your voice is heard. It is not just this industry that will be impacted, this will continue to happen until we stand up and fight. Even if your stance on these vaccinations differs, it is worth considering what the implications of these mandates are for your future.

‘I implore you to fight against mandatory vaccinations – since when was coercive behaviour accepted in our society? The Department of Education Stage 3 PDHPE Child Protection unit teaches our students that “getting permission to do something to someone is called consent. If someone does not get consent, then they are not respecting that person’s rights.” This is what we are told to teach our students, yet it is not what is being shown to their teachers.’

‘I can wholeheartedly say that I work to the best of my ability every single day,’ said one teacher. ‘But now, the only thing that my effectiveness as a teacher is compared against, is my vaccine status. I feel not only heartbroken for myself, but my students, who I will not get to stand beside whilst they graduate from Primary School. It is unfair to us all.’


A Change.org petition, which at the time of writing has around 42,000 signatures, says that teachers believe it is not only unlawful but unconstitutional to impose mandatory vaccinations. ‘People should be able to choose what medical procedures and interventions they have without the risk of losing their job,’ says petition author John Mack. ‘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.’

To view the petition, visit the Change.org page.


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  1. Insane government following orders of insane health officers, will teachers also follow or how many teachers and students will exit.
    The demons running the covid-scam are weakening society, trashing the schools was to be expected.

  2. As I said in a previous post, the inventor of mRNA gene therapy (not a real vaccine in the historical use of the term) has come out weeks ago in America on TV and stated that this option has NOT been tested thoroughly enough to be used as the Governments are foisting upon us.
    And the good folks at Wikipedia then deleted his name as the inventor !!! Media has been gagged !
    Do the Governments and their COVID team really think they know more than the inventor of mRNA ?
    I support anyone who stands up against forced-anything, especially this largely unproven treatment.

  3. As a retired teacher and father of a teacher I suggest the teachers you spoke to are a very small minority. Considering all the hurdles the government has put in front of teachers and attempts to discredit the profession to read these lame reasons put out here is unfair to the majority of teachers. My daughter jumped at the chance of the az vaccine so she get back to face to face teaching as soon as possible.

    • Rod
      I agree there are two sides to every story. This is the first time I have heard this side. Media up to this point have been totally one sided. Pushing the vaccine as hard as they can. I think the point of this article is that everyone has a choice what they do and should not be discriminated which ever way they go. Please remember even if you are vaccinated you can still get COVID and you can still spread it.

  4. As a result of this oppressive action by the government, I will no longer be working as a teacher. Anyone who believes that the government has the right to dictate to us what must be injected into our bodies is absolutely crazy. One less teacher in the already dwindling numbers of qualified teachers. I am disgusted by this government. Does anyone remember when they kept us working and schools open because Covid was not a risk to young people. Do you remember how they told us Delta was more transmissable, yet posed no greater threat in terms of virility and danger to those infected. Too many lies, too much spin, and way too much attempting to rule over us. The government is elected to govern, not to rule us.

    • Tim, I do recall being disgusted by the then federal minister for education, Dan Tehan and our illustrious PM, playing politics with the Victorian government’s school closures and blithely assuring us that teachers and students were not at high risk. It wasn’t fair enough then and less so now with the experience of the delta variant. Scotty even made the highly belittling argument that schools had to be open to parents could work suggesting their main role was baby sitting.

      I think it’s consistent with this disgust I felt to understand why there would be mandatory vaccination for teachers, who share fairly cramped conditions with both students and other teachers. To me it’s a health and safety issue for staff and duty of care for students. Everybody has rights in this question.

      PS I don’t think they told us Delta was more virile. I don’t think viruses have gender/sex
      “virile (adj.) … late 15c., “characteristic of a man; marked by manly force,” from Old French viril (14c.) and directly from Latin virilis “of a man, manly, …”

      I think the word you are after is “virulence”.

    • This actually goes against the Geneva Convention..You cannot force a person to inject anything the person deems toxic or a health risk..It’s time to start a class action…Everyone please sign the charge.org link

      • Sorry, did I read that right? Are you referring to the Geneva Conventions, the papers which regard war crimes and the proper treatment of prisoners of war, in regards to a debate on public health during a pandemic? Also it would be incredible of you to actually cite where in the conventions this clause is, as I can not seem to find it. Thank you in advance.

  5. Is this true?
    ‘There are experts within the fields of medicine, immunology, virology and so forth, who warn against the particular vaccines that we have available to us in Australia between now and the cut off date for the mandatory injections. Not only that, but our own government’s database for adverse event notifications has several hundred reported “cases where death was the reported outcome” amongst several thousand reports of other adverse events.
    The Therapeutic Goods Administration COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 19-08-2021:
    So far, the TGA has found that 7 reports of deaths were linked to immunisation from 460 reports received and reviewed. These deaths occurred after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine – 6 were TTS cases and one was a case of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).
    Please put up the source for the citation/quotation of ”several hundred deaths’.

    • That’s the ones we hear about, Maris..It’s probably far more..You need to do your own research and if you did, not one teacher would be foolish enough to have that poison into their body.

      • I’m so sick of hearing this advice to “do your own research”. What most people mean when they say they have done their own research is that they have read some stuff. We all read stuff!

        Research in its purist sense means primary principles experimentation undertaken under proper trial and control procedures by people with the knowledge and skill for the complexities involved and access to highly sophisticated laboratories.

        They publish their results and there will be variations and differences of opinion but they generally need to pass muster with their peers on the validity of their assumptions, methods and conclusions.

        We amateurs generally need science journos to absorb this info and convert it to digestible layperson’s language. We can be discerning about our sources but for most of us to kid ourselves that we are doing our own research is a bit delusional.

        • So all the doctors and scientist they are trying to shut down, are delusional? You haven’t researched far enough and only to where you want to be brainwashed..The vaccines have failed in Israel ..They were the most jabbed country and now the corona virus is out of control there..Same thing happening in Singapore..Now both countries are looking into a 3rd vaccination..Japan halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses because they found particles of lead and black substance in them..Japan’s health ministry said Saturday that two people in their 30s have died days after receiving their second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot. Digest that!

          • Who is being shut down and how? You seem to be finding out about them, Karen through your “research”.

            This first generations of vaccines are not perfect as they were first developed against a very different Wuhan variant, but look in your own country at the way infection is predominant in a totally different age profile. Could it be that the old are now protected by being given first access to the vaccines?

            There will also be adverse reactions to any treatment or preventative but there also adverse reactions to being infected with this virus.

            When you say I haven’t researched far enough do you mean I haven’t searched in the sources you you prefer? I try to read with an open mind rather than searching for evidence of a predetermined conclusion.

            If we don’t want children vaccinated, because they will in the most part, suffer fewer ill effects from Covid infection, or because they won’t be eligible for some time, I would think the best way to protect them is to have the adults around them vaccinated.

  6. I am extremely disappointed to hear that some teachers have an issue about vaccination. Do they honestly believe that to medical scientists worldwide have put billions of people in jeopardy . At last count 4.6 billions doses have been administered with little negative reaction or side effects

    Teachers are supposed to be intelligent and aware people who set a good example to their students.

    Those that refuse to be vaccinated against a huge amount of positive supporting data should be prepared to lose their jobs as they are “not fit for purpose!”

    • You are a classic example of of perfectly brainwashed person,they managed to do it without any thinking left,the brainwashing powders of the mainstream media and the medical/pharmaceutical industry are obviously becoming pretty powerful 🧠

    • Chris, you need to be thankful that some people still have the intellectual capacity to think outside the mainstream narrative.

      E.g. It’s easy to forget that “medical scientists worldwide” backed thalidomide for use on pregnant women. I believe the “scientists” honestly thought they were doing a good thing at the time. Turns out they weren’t. Amazing huh!

      If you believe the jab stops transmission of this virus and it’s variants then good for you. You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that given what has been force fed by the media. However the reality is, unless you have your nostrils sewn shut, the virus will find your nasal cavity and you will have the same potential to pass it on – jabbed or otherwise. That’s the supporting data and its not pretty.

      We have so much to learn. Those refusing to be vaccinated are doing so on many different reasons and their decision should be respected. More so now as data is showing the effectiveness of the jab is waning, oh and the fact the jab has some serious side-effects, including a terminal one called death.

      To judge and cast aside others and their points of view so quickly reflects more upon the judge at this point in time I’m afraid.

      This drama began with hate and will only end with love my friend, though it is becoming apparent that we have a long way to go.

      Here’s to more knowledge and empathy, we are going to need it.

      • Firstly as a person who obviously thinks he has the “Intellectual Capacity” Here are a few truths:-
        Thalidomide is not a vaccine!
        Vaccinations work by a whole different mechanism.
        Vaccinations have eliminated or substantially reduced the following diseases in mankind and have saved millions of lives.
        Hepatises A and B
        Whooping Cough
        Pneumococcal Disease
        Chicken Pox
        No, I don’t respect ignorant people who because of their unwillingness to do proper unbiased research put whole populations in jeopardy by their selfish acts.

  7. Boy oh boy: a wildly one-sided article with a couple of paragraphs thrown in to give a perception of “balance”.

    Then publishing the likes of an (uncited) letter that that bastion of academic research, Wikipedia, has been “gagged” over the name of the hitherto unnamed, apparent **single** inventor of mRNA being named/credited.

    Give . Me . A . Break!

    I am far from an enthusiastic supporter of the current Covid-19 vaccinations, and was intending to hold off for a while. And then came the so-called “Freedom Marches”, which in my case had the presumably totally counter-productive effect of me running in panic, not walking, to make an appointment.

    There is a thing called “the greater good” and this is where obviously the mandarins in the NSW Education Department have decided that mandatory vaccination of teachers kicks in.

    Finally, it would be appreciated if the guardians at the gates of the Letters section of the Echo allow this Letter slip through, even though it presents an alternative and critical viewpoint to their Editor/s.

  8. I’m wondering if all these teachers are from Steiner schools.

    And why do I keep trying to download the latest version of Windows since I had the jab??

    Please: Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and get the effing jab so’s we can all get back to normal again.

  9. First, most vaccinations take years to develop because the R&D funding is minimal and has to be reapplied for every year. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccinations, governments threw the best minds at their development and money was not an issue. Voila, vaccinations with great efficacy and pretty damn safe.
    Second, there have always been activities that were dependent on being vaccinated around the world; travel, school, insurances, jobs overseas, and so on. In the midst of a global pandemic, surely this is no surprise and should even be welcomed.

  10. It’s simply unthinkable that this ridiculous situation now can stay for much longer,this has to be exposed and the people who are behind this farce need to be brought to justice! There’s more than clear evidence that this medical/pharmaceutical approach is doing more harm than good and anyone still advocating for it is complicit in creating a very unjust society and consciously or unconsciously contributing to lots more suffering! This vaccination experiment has to stop and forcing people into it is just criminal,or great ignorance at best! Big support for everyone who is out there and has the courage and swim against the huge mainstream media tide,thanks for all the courageous people,I love you dearly!

  11. This is an extremely biased article. The writer threw in one pro vax teacher to create a semblance of good journalism, but the article remains one long dog whistle to the anti vaxxers. Shame on the Echo for publishing as news rather than opinion.

    As a former employee of the NSW government, I had to have several vaccinations before I could step in the door. To quibble about protecting the health of children in their care indicates these teachers are not in the right profession.

  12. Well… there’s little to tell with all the yell & spittle. I have a soft spot for kids since most are more
    than aware of the outcome of ‘climate change.’ Adults, teachers, don’t quite measure-up to the
    young or the aged. Sad that the ‘in between’ don’t deserve a mention either… like the RNs in &
    out of hospitals who often work an 8-day week giving the ‘jab’ to First Nations’ People. Anyway,
    I chose to be helpful & remind our Northern Rivers’ people to take care regarding Ivermectin
    usage to treat what you believe doesn’t exist because it has results that are more than horrible.
    Simply put, to swallow what the US of A is selling you as a ‘way out of Covid’ won’t work. Do
    not take the risk of ‘giving it to children or Granny. Deworming Livestock is useless in today’s

  13. I will not get a Pfizer jab, look at the companies terrible history. How are they allowed to still trade? Teachers Federation have become weak as piss over the past 10 yrs. They don’t have the balls to stand up. After 20 yrs of loving teaching I will be sacked later this year. I feel for those people being forced to have an unwanted foreign jab and I feel for those who think it is a good thing and everything will return to normal! There is nothing normal going on here, years of fear, terrorists, sharks, fires, droughts and then a mystery media disease. Everybody is filled with anxiety and will do ridiculous things in an attempt at normality. In a world run by people who believe in fictitious Gods what else could we expect. More lies. Lies, lies, lies.

  14. Fools. Get vaxxed, stay vaxxed, protect yourself, community and loved ones. COVID has been detected in the Byron Bay sewerage treatment works on Thursday 2nd Sept. Someone in the community has it – if it breaks out in Byron / Mullum, you nut jobs will sadly reap what you have sown …

  15. Thank you so much for writing a refreshing and objective article that explains both sides of this complex issue. My husband was born in Mullumbimby and we lived in the area for 14 years. I can now see once again, why the region is so popular as it has the capacity to accept a wide range of viewpoints. I also agree with the ‘grey’ opinions of some of the teachers in the article, people can be vaccine hesitant without being Anti-Vax. It would be ideal to wait a few years for the formal scientific data and reports. It is completely unethical and contrary to Education Department philosophy to mandate vaccines for staff or students.

  16. Thank you Tressa. Clearly there are 2 sides to the coin. I appreciate those who have shared their views respectfully. It is helpful as I also navigate this mandate in Victoria.


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