TEACHERS should be given priority for coronavirus vaccines amid concern over the spread of the disease in schools, the children’s commissioner for England has said.
Anne Longfield (pictured) said the policy could help cut transmission rates and prevent schools having to shut, as she urged ministers to do their utmost to keep them open.
She told the BBC: ‘If there have to be any closures at all it must be for the absolute minimum of time and that time must be used very well.
‘I would like teachers to be offered vaccination as a priority. That is something we haven’t heard yet from government, but it is something that I think is very, very necessary.’
The only key workers in line to get the vaccine during the initial rollout are those employed in care homes, social care and the NHS.
Teachers, along with other front-line staff such as police, must wait until after all over-50s and clinically vulnerable younger people have been offered the jab.
More than 200,000 people have signed an online parliamentary petition calling for teachers to be prioritised. It states: ‘These workers, who cannot distance or use PPE, should be kept safe at work by being put on the vaccine priority list.’
But the Department of Health rejected the call yesterday. It said: ‘We are following the advice from independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on which groups of people to prioritise.
‘They advised the immediate priority should be to prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality.’