Get smart about the threat to your health from Covid and get vaccinated as soon as you can so lockdowns can end and kids can get back to school. That’s the message from local Federal MP Peter Khalil to Glenroy College families.

Mr Khalil was speaking during a special online video event for Glenroy College families, students and staff on Wednesday about the impact of Covid on the local community.

He told students and parents that the risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19 are higher than the risk of experiencing any side-effects from the vaccines.

“It’s going to rip through our community,” he said. “We can’t keep having lockdowns. If you don’t get vaccinated, you ‘re going to be exposed.”

‘I encourage everyone to get vaccinated’

Mr Khalil said the vaccines currently being used in Australia against Covid – AstraZeneca and Pfizer – are proven lifesavers.

He said vaccination deniers and others are deliberately targeting migrant communities in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, including members of local Lebanese and Arabic communities, to scare people and spread disinformation about Covid and vaccines.

He urged members of the College community to ignore misinformation from unreliable or extreme sources and take advice from the experts instead.

Mr Khalil acknowledged that getting vaccinated against Covid is still voluntary in most circumstances, but reminded people that the vaccine was shown to save lives.

“There is evidence the vaccine will save your life if you get Covid,” Mr Khalil told Glenroy College families. “I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated protects you as an individual, it protects your family, it protects your friends and the broader community.

“When opening up does happen, the unvaccinated will cop it the worst.”

Mandatory Covid jabs for some

Mandatory vaccination is only required at this stage for people who work in aged care, though a growing number of other companies and workplaces want the State Government to make vaccination compulsory for their workers. Construction workers will also soon have to be vaccinated against Covid to keep working, the State Government has announced.

It’s likely that people will also need to soon prove they are vaccinated against Covid to travel overseas, to attend sporting and cultural events and even to visit local cafes and restaurants as the State and Federal governments take steps to relax lockdown rules and open up in coming months,

When can we come back to school, student asks

Year 7 student Rami Arabi quizzes MP Peter Khalil during the online Covid forum

Mr Khalil took questions from students, including Year 7 student Rami Arabi, who asked if his classmates needed to have a vaccination before coming back to school.

There is no current rule about mandatory vaccinations for students before onsite learning can resume, but both the Victorian and federal governments are encouraging all students aged over 12 to get vaccinated. Glenroy College is also encouraging all eligible students to have a Covid vaccination over the coming school holidays, if possible.

Vaccinate to end lockdowns

Mr Khalil said while lockdowns are hard on parents and students, vaccination is the only way out. He thanked staff, students and parents for their efforts so far and encouraged everyone to do their part to get the country’s vaccination rate up to 70 per cent.

This is the minimum level of vaccinations which the Federal Government says is needed in people over 16 before strict Covid restrictions can ease.

“We’ve all had to make some very serious sacrifices to save lives,” Mr Khalil said. “There is a way out – vaccination.”

The Labor MP also took a moment to blast the Morrison government for ‘stuffing up’ the vaccine rollout, but said the country was now catching up on vaccination rates.

The meeting was cut short because of technical issues, but Mr Khalil invited families and students to submit any questions to him directly or via the College.