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Victorian vaccine rollout must deliver access and extend eligibility for all marginalised young people

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) emphasises the importance of safe, free and effective COVID-19 vaccinations to protect marginalised young people and their families from Coronavirus. YSAS welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement of increased availability of vaccines at state-run vaccination centres for Victorians aged 18-39 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 12 years old, but urged the Victorian Health Minister to extend the same level of access and care for all at-risk and vulnerable youth aged 12-17.

YSAS provides services for young people experiencing serious disadvantage at 19 sites across the state, including 5 residential alcohol and drug treatment facilities. 

YSAS CEO Andrew Bruun said the improved rate of vaccinations and testing is a great sign and gave credit to the Victorian State Government for their efforts, but claims that it’s a missed opportunity not to ensure that the most vulnerable young people in our state are vaccinated. 

“I urge the Victorian Health Minister to extend eligibility for vaccination to young people aged 12-17 who the most vulnerable in our community.” 

 “Many vulnerable young people are fearful of authority and the stigma that they might face in trying to access their state-run vaccination centres. YSAS workers can draw on trusted relationships with marginalised young people to address vaccine hesitancy and guide them through the process of getting their vaccine, just like a parent would. We have a unique opportunity to provide vaccines to vulnerable young people aged 12-17” Mr Bruun said. 

 Mr Bruun welcomes accredited community health providers offering vaccinations at YSAS and other community service sites, but without extending eligibility for young people aged 12-17, he is concerned that so many vulnerable young people will be left out of the vaccine rollout. 

 “Now is the perfect time to make the vaccine available to vulnerable young people aged 12-17 to keep them, and their families safe.” 

 “YSAS would love to see free, safe and effective vaccines made available to all young people across the community services and youth sector.”

About YSAS

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug service, YSAS now employs over 350 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While the prime focus of YSAS remains on effective Youth AOD Treatment and sector leadership, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and improve meaningful community participation.

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