A vaccine champion is helping his school community learn about the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Michael Lyristis, Bentleigh Secondary College, shares facts and data to build vaccine confidence

Returning to onsite learning in Term 1 is an exciting and positive start to the year for staff and students. It's also a time where we need to work together and all do our bit, to help schools remain a safe place to work and learn.

As part of the Pandemic Orders announced on 25 January 2022, a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is required for anyone who attends an education facility for work, unless they have a medical exemption. Students aged 5-11 years old are now also eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination remains the best way to protect students and staff in school settings. The department strongly encourages staff and students to get vaccinated and help make 2022 a safe, positive and successful year of learning in Victoria.

Last year, we spoke with Dr Michael Lyristis, from Bentleigh Secondary College, who shares facts and data to build vaccine confidence in our schools and workforces.

Head of Senior School and Biology teacher at Bentleigh Secondary College, Dr Michael Lyristis is often asked by his students and colleagues about the COVID-19 virus and why they should receive the vaccination. And his answer is simple. The vaccine is safe, it provides protection and it's our only way back to a normal life.

Michael's more qualified than most to talk about the vaccine, having completed a PhD in Microbiology and postdoctoral research on infectious diseases.

"My background allows me to understand the science behind the vaccine and this is what I talk about – the data and the facts."

"I often ask the kids: do you know anyone who has polio? When they say they don't, I say that's because we have a vaccine that prevents it. But 50 years ago, you would have."

Michael has been really impressed with the way his students have embraced the necessity of receiving the vaccine.

"The kids want to get on with their lives," he said, "they want to get back into the classroom, socialise and eventually travel. They recognise that getting the vaccine is the answer."

"Students want to do all of the things that we as adults did in our youth from meeting with friends for a night out or attending a live gig or even a night out with close family at a restaurant. They want to experience these things."

Michael is in an optimal position to assist students to better understand the benefits of being vaccinated and the school is lucky to have such a respected and knowledgeable staff member as a trusted source of advice for all staff and students at the College.

This enables him to be able to speak publicly and articulately about the circumstances we are all currently facing, and to help school communities recognise how they can contribute to the health and safety of all Victorians. 

Supporting employees to get vaccinated 

Employees can access up to half a day's paid release from duty to attend their COVID-19 vaccination appointments, including for third dose appointments. Please speak to your principal about accessing this support to attend your vaccine appointment at a time that will minimise disruption to the educational program of the school.

For further information about how employees will be supported to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, contact the Schools People Services general HR phone line: 1800 641 943.

For more general information about the COVID-19 vaccine, refer to: