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Thousands of students to get Pfizer jab as Year 12 vaccination push begins in Sydney

A 21,000-seat stadium in Sydney will for the next seven days serve as a hub for Year 12 students from eight coronavirus-hit council areas in western and southwestern Sydney to get jabbed.

But regardless of their vaccination status, the students have not been cleared to return to the classroom on 16 August.

Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney Olympic Park will from Monday be the venue for the 24,000 Year 12 students to get their first Pfizer shot.

These students include those who study or reside in the Liverpool, Cumberland, Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Parramatta, Blacktown, Georges River and Campbelltown council areas.

The arena will cater solely for the Year 12 students this week before becoming a mass AstraZeneca hub for adults from next week.

NSW Health said over the weekend that eligible students would receive an online link to make their vaccine reservation.

Authorities encouraged all students to take up the vaccine offer.

However despite getting jabbed, students in the eight council areas will not – unlike their peers – return to the classroom from 16 August.

They will instead return at an unspecified later date.

Year 12 students from other parts of Sydney will return to school on 16 August for essential education as well as wellbeing support.

Schools will have individualised plans to help ensure social distancing between on-site students and to “leverage physical spaces”.

All school assessments and trial HSC exams will take place remotely.

It comes as 12 suburbs in the western Sydney council area of Penrith are included on the government’s virus “areas of concern” list.

It is not clear if students in these suburbs – Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair and St Marys – will also be eligible for vaccination at the stadium.

NSW recorded 262 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, at least 72 of which were in the community while infectious.

The outbreak has killed at least 28 people to date.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday reiterated vaccination was the primary means by which to bring the pandemic to an end.

While NSW could not consider returning to pre-pandemic freedoms until it reached 70 per cent vaccination coverage, Ms Berejiklian said some restrictions could be eased with a 50 per cent rate.

Her government hopes to hit six million jabs by month’s end, which would require administering an average of 65,000 jabs each day.

Almost 46 per cent of eligible NSW residents have received one shot.

“We are keen to really sprint. This is a race,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Not only does (the vaccine) keep people out of hospital, it also prevents the virus spreading, prevents people getting the virus.”