COVID-19 vaccines are free for international students in Australia, but some students in New South Wales have had challenges accessing their vaccines. University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council president Swapnik Sanagavarapu expressed concern that international students in Australia living near campus had experienced “administrative issues” in accessing vaccination after the university’s on-campus medical centre decided to only administer doses to Medicare card holders.
“We sent a letter a couple of days ago to the health minister to ask if you could make it clear across the board that Medicare cards are not required for vaccination,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. Sanagavarapu said he believed international students in the community were otherwise inclined to be vaccinated.
Australia’s Department of Health notes: “COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, even if you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This includes people without a Medicare card, overseas visitors, international students in Australia, migrant workers and asylum seekers.
A University of Sydney spokesperson confirmed on-site vaccinations for students, their partners and dependents were only available for Medicare-card holders at its University Health Service, said the report. The service, however, directs members of the community without a Medicare card, including international students, to book appointments through the New South Wales Health clinics.
Separately, New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Wednesday launched an International Student Intake Support Service designed to provide international students in Australia with information about vaccination and wellbeing during lockdown.
“There is no denying that this pandemic has been incredibly tough on our international students, who have been cut off from their loved ones and many have lost their jobs, but … vaccination will be key to getting back to life as normal,” he was quoted saying, adding that there are about 110,000 international students in New South Wales.
The International Student Intake Support Service is the result of a collaboration between Study NSW with Sydney Alliance and Sydney Community Forum. The pilot digital platform enables international students in New South Wales and those studying abroad to submit a request for support. There are more than 60 community organisations offering support services during COVID-19 to international students in Australia.
“Multilingual, trained case managers have been employed to triage enquiries and connect international students with government and community support services during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said its website. “The service covers nine different support areas where students are guided through the Australian system based on the experience and knowledge of other international students.”