Tony Blair: Vaccinating teachers would take two days

Wading into the teacher vaccine row, ex-prime minister says vaccinating all teachers is the ‘reasonable thing to do’
31st January 2021, 9:50am

Former prime minister Tony Blair has said that it would take just two days to vaccinate all teachers.

Wading into the teacher vaccine debate, Mr Blair said that vaccinating all teachers was the “reasonable” thing to do, and that it would help to get children back into school. 

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Blair said: “To vaccinate all the teachers, you could do it in a very short space of time. I know you would delay it somewhat, but you could probably get that done in a couple of days. 

“The point is that, I know there are arguments on the other side and, obviously, speaking as someone who’s in that age category, of course I want the vaccine as soon as possible but on the other hand, it’s so important to get the children back into school.

Tony Blair: Teacher vaccinations would help to reopen schools

“If it’s 500,000 people, it’s two days of vaccination. I think that is a reasonable thing to do in these circumstances, if it helps allow you to get the schools back sooner and if you combine it with testing, which we should do again. Obviously, we should be using many more of these rapid antigen tests, if you combine it with that, then you can probably get the schools back.”

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His comments come days after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for teachers to be vaccinated during the February half-term so that schools can be reopened more widely.

However, secretary of state for international trade Liz Truss, also speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, said the most vulnerable people in society had to be prioritised. 

“The issue is that for every person you vaccinate who isn’t in the most vulnerable group, that’s somebody in the most vulnerable group who isn’t getting their vaccine, and who is more likely to die in the next few weeks or months,” she said.

“I just don’t think that’s right and that is a decision made by the independent committee that we are going to vaccinate first the over-70s, and those are the most vulnerable group, and then the over-50s. I think it’s right that we do have an independent committee that looks at the priorities. 

“Of course, we want everybody to be vaccinated. Of course, we want the schools to be open but we face a really difficult choice and the most important thing is protecting lives, and that is why we’ve had to do the vaccine priorities in a way we have.”

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