By Rachael Grealish
Matt Hancock has confirmed teachers will not be prioritised in the next phase of vaccinations.
Speaking from Downing Street today, Friday February 26, the Health Secretary has confirmed the way in which COVID-19 vaccines will be offered – by age group and not career group.
He said: “This is the fastest and simplest way to roll out the jab, our moral duty is to put saving lives first and that’s what we’ve done.
“So I can confirm we will follow this clinical advice we will get jabs into arms as quickly as we can.”
The Health Secretary also reiterated the science shows the impact the vaccine and lockdown measures is having in lowering cases and, ultimately hospitalisations and deaths.
But even with the good news there Hancock did say: “We’ve all though still got to hold our nerve and do our bit.”
The Secretary of State explained the decision behind phase 2 was down to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which considered all the evidence when making the recommendations.
Evidence suggests an age-based approach remains the most effective way of reducing death and hospitalisation from COVID-19.
Many unions had argued teachers should receive a vaccine before returning to schools, but when asked about this he explained the advice, to save the most lives the fastest way.
The committee agreed that mass vaccination targeting occupational groups would be more complex to deliver and may slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some more vulnerable people at higher risk unvaccinated for longer.
“We also know through the data Teachers are no more likely to catch COVID-19 than any other member of the population going to work,” he explained, “and trying to come up with a scheme that priorities one group over another would be complicated to put in place and wouldn’t have done what we asked the JCVI to – which, I think is the right thing – which is to make sure we mi impose the amount of people who die, by using the vaccine.”
Professor Johnathan Van Tam added the ONS data suggests restaurant and catering managers have the highest risk of death, followed by other professions including metal working and machine operatives, chefs and cab drivers – all before teachers.
For Phase 2, modelling studies also indicate the speed of vaccine deployment is the most important factor in maximising public health benefits against severe outcomes.
After groups 1 to 9 in Phase 1, people aged 40 to 49 years are at highest risk of hospitalisation, with the risk reducing the younger you are.
Prioritisation will therefore continue in the following order, once all at-risk groups in Phase 1 have been offered at least one dose of the vaccine:
- all those aged 40 to 49 years
- all those aged 30 to 39 years
- all those aged 18 to 29 years
Operationally, simple and easy-to-deliver programmes are critical for rapid deployment and high vaccine uptake.
Other people at higher risk of hospitalisation from COVID-19 include:
- those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities
- those with a BMI over 30
- those living in deprived neighbourhoods
JCVI strongly advises that these people promptly take up the offer of vaccination when they are offered.