Pressure mounts on Government to prioritise teachers for coronavirus vaccine

The Government is under mounting pressure to make teachers a priority for the coronavirus vaccine amid fresh schools chaos.

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told the Mirror she had already written to ministers urging them to bump teachers up the priority list for the jab.

The calls come as the start of term for most English secondary school pupils was delayed and primary school children will have to learn from home next week in Covid hotspots.

Ms Longfield said: “I’ve written to both the Secretary of State for Health [Matt Hancock] and Education [Gavin Williamson], asking them to make teachers a priority.”

Tory Education Committee Chairman Robert Halfon said ensuring staff had received the jab would make it less likely schools need to close.

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield called for teachers to get priority for the vaccine

He told BBC Breakfast: “What I also want to see is teachers, especially now that we’ve got the Oxford vaccine, that teachers and support staff are made an absolute priority for vaccinations because if we can make sure that they’re vaccinated and they’re safe, it’s less likely that schools will have to close.

“This two weeks has to mean two weeks – schools can’t just be a revolving door that never stands still, open one day, shut the next, because it’s very damaging to the life chances of these pupils.”

The over-80s, care home residents and frontline NHS and care staff are top of the list for the mammoth rollout of the Covid vaccine, which was given a boost by the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab on Wednesday.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation identified nine priority groups for the first wave of jabs, in the hope of stamping out 99% of preventable deaths.

Teachers and school staff have not been included in the first round, but the JCVI has suggested the next phase could include those at increased risk due to their jobs, such as first responders, troops, teachers and public servants.

Map showing Tier 4 areas in England
More than three quarters of England has been put into the highest Tier 4 restrictions

Steve Chalke, boss of the Oasis Academies Trust, which runs more than 50 schools, said: “Government’s decision to keep schools open for the sake of our children’s education, must now be matched by their commitment to protect the staff who will make this possible, by ensuring they are at the head of the queue, along with NHS and care workers, to be offered the vaccine.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said inoculating teachers would be considered for future phases of the rollout but the most vulnerable were being prioritised.

He told Sky News: “When we look at future waves of a rollout of a vaccine … as you can imagine, as Education Secretary I’ll be wanting to see teachers and all those support staff being up there on that list getting that vaccine.”

Asked directly whether teachers should be prioritised like healthcare workers, the Education Secretary added: “In future waves, obviously, this is a decision that will be made across government, it’d be great to see more teachers right up there getting the vaccine, but it’s got to be made on clinical judgment as to how best we deal with and beat this virus.”


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