Advice from the JCVI on the priority groups for a Covid-19 vaccine does not include school/childcare workers. This petition calls for these workers, who cannot distance or use PPE, to be kept safe at work by being put on the vaccine priority list when such a list is adopted into government policy.
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Inclusion of school and childcare staff on the priority list should also:
* provide more protection for children and their families
* reduce the chance of settings being closed for 2 weeks and working parents having to take time off work
* ensure continuity of education for children
* allow schools to return to normality faster, having a positive impact on children’s mental health
* reduce the chance of NHS workers having to stay at home with children who are isolating due to closures
Tuesday 23rd February 2021
The government is working hard to ensure everyone who is prioritised based on clinical risk, as set out by the JCVI receives a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as reasonably possible.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is the independent medical and scientific expert body who advise the UK Government on prioritisation for all vaccines. The committee’s membership is made up of practising clinicians and scientists, as well as individuals from academia who consider the impact of COVID-19 and provide advice on prioritisation of a COVID-19 vaccine in the population.
For phase one of the vaccine roll-out, the underlying principles at the forefront of the JCVI advice are to reduce mortality and morbidity, and to protect the NHS and social care systems, including the frontline staff working in these areas. Given the current epidemiological situation in the UK, all evidence indicates that the best option for preventing mortality in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect persons most at risk.
Having identified age as being the biggest determining risk factor to increased mortality, COVID-19 vaccinations have been prioritised to care home residents and staff and those over 80, followed by health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Further information on prioritisation can be found via the following link: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a. If a teacher, school or childcare worker is identified as being in one of the at-risk cohorts, they will be contacted by the NHS at the appropriate time based on JCVI advice. It is estimated that when phase one concludes by the end of Spring 2021, twenty-five million people will have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
To enable this to happen, the National Health Service (NHS) has been working alongside its health and social care partners to ensure vaccinations can be administered safely and effectively as part of the largest vaccination programme undertaken in its history. Following months of comprehensive planning, more than 250 hospital hubs, 1,028 GP-led local vaccination services, 130 high street pharmacies and 50 large-scale vaccination centres are currently in operation across England. This has been a monumental effort by all those involved which has allowed over 9 million of the highest priority individuals to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date.
As the COVID-19 vaccine programme continues to grow, the government continues to follow the scientific and expert advice. As such, there are currently no plans to deviate from the advice set out by the JCVI and prioritise teachers, school or childcare staff during the first phase of deployment unless these individuals are over 50 or have an underlying health condition which place them in priority cohorts 1-9.
Looking ahead, the JCVI continues to collect and analyse data in order to best inform the advice it provides the government. Further data and advice from the JCVI will inform the next steps going forward in preparation for Phase Two of the roll-out of the COVID Vaccination programme. The Department of Health and Social Care will work with the NHS, independent experts and other partners to best implement this.
Ensuring the safety of children, the education and childcare workforce and families is our overriding priority. We continue to update our guidance to help the childcare sector provide a safe and secure environment for children and staff. To deliver on these aims and to support full re-opening we are rolling out our asymptomatic testing programme to staff in primary and nursery schools, whilst over 90% of secondary schools have now registered for rapid testing. As a result of the brilliant efforts schools and colleges are making to deliver testing it is hoped this will help break the chains of transmission of the COVID-19 virus and support a return to face-to-face education.
Department of Health and Social Care
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/554316)