Phase one of the UK vaccine rollout is in full force and more than 18 million people have already received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose. The Government has set a target for vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of July 2021. Today (Friday, February 26), the Government announced the order of priority for phase two of the vaccination programme.
The NHS is currently vaccinating people in priority groups one to six.
These groups include frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and workers, people considered clinically extremely or clinically vulnerable and people over the age of 64.
People yet to have a vaccine in the phase one rollout are groups seven to nine, which includes people over the age of 50.
After groups one to nine on the JCVI priority list have been vaccinated, the NHS will move onto the next priority group, which it was announced today will be people aged 40 to 49.
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However, Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chair for the JCVI, told a press briefing that age “remains a dominant factor – it is still one of the most important causes of severe disease, even in those aged 50 years and below”.
He said even within different occupations, it is older people who are more at risk than those who are younger.
The JCVI also expressed concern about whether administering vaccines based on jobs could slow down the progress of the vaccine programme.
The news teachers and police officers will not be prioritised for vaccinations has been met with frustration by unions.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “I am amazed by the continuing dedication of school teams. The Government has let them down at every turn.
“The fact that it may have added some complexity to rollout is not a good enough reason not to prioritise the needs of committed professionals.
“A sick teacher is a teacher away from class, which will mean further disruption to pupils’ education and could well mean that they may need to be educated from home again.”
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England & Wales, said the decision not to vaccinate police officers as a priority was “a contemptible betrayal of police officers”.
“Their anger is palpable, this will not be forgotten.”