Teachers have ‘good shout’ at being high on jab priority list after vulnerable

The Health Secretary said it was important to break the chains of transmission, but that those at highest risk of death needed to be protected first.

A Covid jab is prepared
A Covid jab is prepared

Teachers have a “good shout” of being high on the coronavirus vaccine priority list once the most clinically vulnerable have received their jabs, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said it was important to break the chains of transmission, but that those at highest risk of death needed to be protected first.

It comes following reports of proposals for mass vaccination programmes for education staff over the February half-term.

According to the Daily Mail, the proposal has been drawn up by a number of educational bodies and would incur no cost to the Government.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Hancock said: “It’s not a matter of logistics, the logistics can be organised.

“The challenge is the supply of vaccine, supply is the rate-limiting factor.

“The question is who should have each dose as it comes in… and we’ve taken the decision, quite rightly, to go through in order of clinical need, starting with those who are most likely to die from this disease.

“Of course we want to break the chains of transmission but we’ve also got to stop people dying from the disease if they catch it.

“We’re going through those who are clinically vulnerable… and after that there’s a perfectly reasonable debate to be had about who should go in what order next.

“Teachers have got a good shout to be very high on the list and those discussions are going on.”

Coronavirus – Tue Jul 21, 2020
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (PA)

The Sunday Times said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was expected to rule out a return to the classroom after the February half-term break and would prepare parents for a prolonged period of home-schooling ahead.

As recently as Thursday, Mr Williamson said that he hoped schools would be able to reopen before Easter, although Downing Street pointedly declined to endorse his comments.

Mr Hancock added that while he hoped schools in England could reopen by Easter, it would depend on the levels of infection in the community at that time.

“We have got to look at the data, we have got to look at the impact of the vaccination programme,” he said.

“The Education Secretary (Gavin Williamson) has said that we will ensure schools get two weeks’ notice of return. I don’t know whether it will be then or before then. We have got to watch the data.”

The deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said the vaccine roll-out strategy might be reconsidered if it is found to prevent transmission.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Professor Anthony Harnden said teachers are not in the first four priority groups because it is not known what impact the programme is having on the spread of the virus.

“One of the things we really don’t know, which is a key piece of information, is whether these vaccines prevent transmission or not,” he said.

“If studies do show they prevent transmission, it could be a whole new board game in terms of who you vaccinate and in what order. But at the moment our clear focus is trying to prevent hospitalisations and deaths.”

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