Teachers and police should be considered for vaccinations after the most vulnerable have been immunised, NHS England’s chief executive said today.
Sir Simon Stevens said there should be a ‘legitimate discussion’ about vaccinating public-facing workers such as teachers after those most at risk have received their jabs.
He also suggested those with learning disabilities should be considered for the next round of vaccinations, and said that this should perhaps happen as early as February.
Sir Simon told the Committee that Covid vaccines were being used as fast as they arrived in the NHS, and more than half of those aged 75-79 have now had their first vaccine doses.
‘We are at the moment pretty much using up each week’s vaccine as we get it, as we receive it through the safety testing, the batch testing, distribution to the NHS, then it gets sent out across the country,’ he said.
NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens said today that there should be a ‘legitimate discussion’ about vaccinating public-facing workers such as teachers after those most at-risk have received their jab
‘Our current proposition that once we have offered a vaccination to everyone aged 70 and above, and the clinically extremely vulnerable, then the next group of people would be people in their 60s and 50s.
‘But there will also be a legitimate discussion in my view that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will have to advise on as to whether or not there are certain other groups who should receive that priority.
‘People with learning disabilities and autism, certain key public service workers, teachers, the police, they will have to be factored in that post-February 15 prioritisation decision.’
Sir Simon said reducing the number of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients was not ‘the only consideration’ policymakers would take into account when deciding the vaccination priority list.
‘Fundamentally, the most important thing is to get the overall infection rate down, this is not principally about pressure on the NHS, this is principally about reducing the avoidable death rate,’ he added.
However a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published yesterday found that teachers were not more likely to die from coronavirus than the general population amid mounting calls to bump them up the vaccine list and get children back at their desks before the Easter holidays.
The report found 139 teachers in primary schools, secondary schools and universities in England and Wales died last year after catching the virus.
While protecting teachers earlier than other vulnerable Brits has been a subject of hot debate in recent weeks with ministers desperate to reopen schools, the data showed their death risk was no higher than average.
JCVI PRIORITY LIST FOR COVID VACCINES
The JCVI’s guidance says the order of priority should be the below.
1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
2. All those who are 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. All those who are 75 years of age and over
4. All those who are 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age
5. All those who are 65 years of age and over
6. Adults aged 18 to 65 years in an at-risk group, such as the morbidly obese
7. All those aged 60 and over
8. All those aged 55 and over
9. All those aged 50 and over
This may in part be because they have spent large parts of the pandemic working from home or on school holidays – schools were only fully open between September and December.
Most schools, however, have still been giving in-person lessons to vulnerable children and the children of key workers throughout the pandemic.
Statisticians said school staff’s rate of death was below the national average of 31 and 16 fatalities per 100,000 people in men and women respectively, as they had a rate at 18 and 10.
The ONS report found no statistical difference between the likelihood of dying from the virus for those working in these settings compared to the general population, further suggesting pupils should be allowed to return to the classroom.
There were 52 deaths in secondary school teachers last year, they said. This gave a death rate of 39.2 per 100,000 in males, and 21.2 per 100,000 in females.
The minister for Innovation at the Department of Health, Lord Bethell, said the figures provided ‘some reassurance’ for teachers.
‘We remain vigilant lest they change,’ he added, ‘and thank teachers for their efforts’.
Experts have warned Britain risks having a ‘lost generation’ of children because of the disruption to teaching and the exams schedule, and called for the youngest – who are least affected by the virus – to be allowed to return to the classroom.
Hopes of enabling this were raised earlier this week when Mr Hancock suggested teachers could be bumped up the queue for vaccinations, which could allow schools to open soon.
He said teachers had a ‘good shot’ at being higher priority on the vaccination list, as hundreds of top schools offered to allow their premises to be used for vaccinating all teachers over February half-term.
TOP TEN JOBS WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS DEATHS, ACCORDING TO THE ONS
Taxi drivers, home carers, security guards and lorry drivers were among the professions suffering the highest number of deaths from coronavirus, official data shows.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal there were 8,000 deaths in people aged between 20 and 64 in England and Wales last year, one twelfth of the total.
And of the more than 5,000 for which a profession was registered, the ONS compiled the statistics to show which were recording the highest number of deaths after an individual tested positive for the virus.
In men, the highest number of Covid-19 deaths was in taxi and cab drivers, 209, followed by security guards, 140, and lorry drivers, 118. And in women the highest number of Covid-19 deaths was in care workers, 240, sales assistants, 111, and nurses, 110.
Taxi and cab drivers
Large goods vehicle drivers
Care workers/Home carers
Processing plant workers
Bus and coach drivers
Number of Covid-19 deaths
Care workers/Home carers
Other administrative jobs
Number of Covid-19 deaths