Coronavirus: Vaccine priority list overlooks teachers

Coronavirus: Vaccine priority list overlooks teachers

The priority list for the coronavirus vaccine overlooks the role of teachers and other front-line workers, an MP has said.

Charlotte Appleyard, a Derbyshire teacher, launched a petition for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised for the jab.

It has gained more than 460,000 signatures, prompting a discussion among MPs on Monday.

The government said its priority is saving lives.

Ms Appleyard’s petition said putting teachers higher on the list would protect children and their families, reduce school closures and allow them to return to normality faster.

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, opening the debate, said it was not about “leapfrogging” others but ensuring teachers are considered too.

Ms Antoniazzi, MP for Gower and herself a former teacher, said research by a teaching union had found a “three to four” times higher rate of the virus among teachers than the general population, adding there is a lot of opportunity for it to spread in schools.

She added: “This is not about leapfrogging others that deserve the vaccine.

“[Charlotte Appleyard] wants consideration about where they are placed on that list.

“Only NHS staff and healthcare workers have been considered priority groups by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) but I and many others think this overlooks the role teachers and front-line workers have played during this pandemic.”

In response, vaccine rollout minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government is “following the science” and the JCVI’s recommendations in choosing who to vaccinate in the first phase.

“I understand the sentiment behind the petition,” he added.

“[But] this is about saving as many lives as possible as quickly as possible.

“There is no evidence that teachers or childcare workers are at higher risk of mortality. We are protecting against death in this first phase.”

The government has previously said those working in professions that put them at higher risk, including teachers, could be prioritised in the next phase of vaccination.

Leave a Reply