Teachers will be in the “highest category of phase two” of the vaccine rollout, along with other critical workers such as police officers, a senior minister has suggested.
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi, who is also responsible for deployment of the Covid vaccine across the country, said some teachers were already receiving it in phase one of the rollout because they are over 50 or clinically vulnerable.
Speaking to Sky news, he said: “Some police officers, of course, and teachers, will actually get the vaccine (in phase one) because they are in those categories, but we will very quickly move on to those other critical workers in the economy and, of course, those who are doing an incredible job, like our policemen and women in protecting us and enforcing the rules at the moment, will also be in that highest category of phase two.”
Exclusive: 'Vaccinate teachers from start of term' plea
Briefing: 'Schools are safe,' says prime minister
His comments echo those made by Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which recommends to the government on which groups should be prioritised. He said yesterday that the “critical role” teachers play “really will figure in the discussions”.
Also speaking to Sky, Professor Finn said the JCVI had been tasked with drawing up a plan by the middle of February to determine the priority order of who should be vaccinated next.
He said: “As you can appreciate, these considerations start to be social values, in a way, more than the criteria we normally use, which is pressure on the health service.”
Asked about the position of teachers on the priority list, he said: “I can’t predict exactly what will be prioritised but I can say that we will be discussing this and coming up with a plan, and I can also say that, when it comes to teachers, I think we all appreciate the critical role that they play and so that really will figure in the discussions.”
MPs are this afternoon set to debate the question of whether teachers should be prioritised for the vaccine after a parliamentary petition attracted more than 450,000 signatures.
The petition, which has easily surpassed the 100,000 threshold for triggering a parliamentary debate, says there would be less chance of schools being closed if teachers, and other school and childcare staff, were prioritised for the vaccine – which would, in turn, prevent working parents having to take time off work.