Vaccination of matura students to start next Friday

Ljubljana – Final-year secondary school pupils will have a chance to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as early as next Friday ahead of the school-leaving examinations due to begin in May under an upgraded national vaccination strategy adopted by the government on Thursday.

The upgraded strategy, presented by Health Ministry official Vesna Kerstin Petrič at Friday’s press briefing, placed matura students and staff involved in the examinations that has not yet been vaccinated among priority groups, along with over 60-year-olds and people with chronic conditions.

Kerstin Petrič said that parents of particularly vulnerable chronically ill children have also been listed among the priority groups in the latest change to Slovenia’s vaccination strategy.

“We want the pupils to prepare for the maturity examination in the most relaxed way possible and that they sit for it in a safe environment,” she said in explaining the rationale behind the latest change in strategy, although she admitted it came a bit late.

Noting that vaccination is voluntary, the official urged pupils wishing to get a jab to apply today or by noon on Monday at the vaccination centre of the community health care of their permanent residence.

Pupils aged 18 and over will be inoculated with the AstraZeneca jab and those under 18 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

About 17,000 final-year secondary school pupils are to sit for the matura examinations, which are due to start with a Slovenian essay on 4 May. There have been some indications the test might be postponed, but Kerstin Petrič said she was not in a position to speak about the examinations.

Mateja Logar, the head of the Covid-19 advisory team, confirmed for TV Slovenija yesterday the group had proposed moving the essay exam to the end of May to allow pupils to develop immunity against Covid-19 after vaccination. However, the Education Ministry said matura would proceed as planned.

Bojana Beović, the head of the national advisory committee on immunisation, said the body had not been acquainted with the idea to vaccinate matura students and that it was a political decision.