Closed petition Prioritise teachers, school and childcare staff for Covid-19 vaccination

Advice from the JCVI on the priority groups for a Covid-19 vaccine does not include school/childcare workers. This petition calls for these workers, who cannot distance or use PPE, to be kept safe at work by being put on the vaccine priority list when such a list is adopted into government policy.

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Inclusion of school and childcare staff on the priority list should also:
* provide more protection for children and their families
* reduce the chance of settings being closed for 2 weeks and working parents having to take time off work
* ensure continuity of education for children
* allow schools to return to normality faster, having a positive impact on children’s mental health
* reduce the chance of NHS workers having to stay at home with children who are isolating due to closures

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 11 January 2021

Watch the petition 'Prioritise teachers, school and childcare staff for Covid-19 vaccination' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 23 February 2021

The government is working hard to ensure everyone who is prioritised based on clinical risk, as set out by the JCVI receives a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as reasonably possible.

Read the response in full

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is the independent medical and scientific expert body who advise the UK Government on prioritisation for all vaccines. The committee’s membership is made up of practising clinicians and scientists, as well as individuals from academia who consider the impact of COVID-19 and provide advice on prioritisation of a COVID-19 vaccine in the population.

For phase one of the vaccine roll-out, the underlying principles at the forefront of the JCVI advice are to reduce mortality and morbidity, and to protect the NHS and social care systems, including the frontline staff working in these areas. Given the current epidemiological situation in the UK, all evidence indicates that the best option for preventing mortality in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect persons most at risk.

Having identified age as being the biggest determining risk factor to increased mortality, COVID-19 vaccinations have been prioritised to care home residents and staff and those over 80, followed by health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Further information on prioritisation can be found via the following link: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a. If a teacher, school or childcare worker is identified as being in one of the at-risk cohorts, they will be contacted by the NHS at the appropriate time based on JCVI advice. It is estimated that when phase one concludes by the end of Spring 2021, twenty-five million people will have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine.

To enable this to happen, the National Health Service (NHS) has been working alongside its health and social care partners to ensure vaccinations can be administered safely and effectively as part of the largest vaccination programme undertaken in its history. Following months of comprehensive planning, more than 250 hospital hubs, 1,028 GP-led local vaccination services, 130 high street pharmacies and 50 large-scale vaccination centres are currently in operation across England. This has been a monumental effort by all those involved which has allowed over 9 million of the highest priority individuals to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date.

As the COVID-19 vaccine programme continues to grow, the government continues to follow the scientific and expert advice. As such, there are currently no plans to deviate from the advice set out by the JCVI and prioritise teachers, school or childcare staff during the first phase of deployment unless these individuals are over 50 or have an underlying health condition which place them in priority cohorts 1-9.

Looking ahead, the JCVI continues to collect and analyse data in order to best inform the advice it provides the government. Further data and advice from the JCVI will inform the next steps going forward in preparation for Phase Two of the roll-out of the COVID Vaccination programme. The Department of Health and Social Care will work with the NHS, independent experts and other partners to best implement this.

Ensuring the safety of children, the education and childcare workforce and families is our overriding priority. We continue to update our guidance to help the childcare sector provide a safe and secure environment for children and staff. To deliver on these aims and to support full re-opening we are rolling out our asymptomatic testing programme to staff in primary and nursery schools, whilst over 90% of secondary schools have now registered for rapid testing. As a result of the brilliant efforts schools and colleges are making to deliver testing it is hoped this will help break the chains of transmission of the COVID-19 virus and support a return to face-to-face education.

Department of Health and Social Care

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/554316)

Other parliamentary business

Original Government response

The government is working hard to ensure everyone who is clinically prioritised, as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation, receives a vaccine as soon as possible.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is the independent medical and scientific expert body which advises the UK Government on prioritisation for all vaccines. It is made up of practising clinicians and individuals from academia who have considered and continue to consider the impact of Covid-19 and population prioritisation.

For phase one of the vaccine roll-out, the underlying principles at the forefront of the JCVI advice are to reduce mortality, and to protect the NHS and social care systems. Given the current epidemiological situation in the UK, all evidence indicates that the best option for preventing mortality in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect persons most at risk. Having identified age as being the biggest determining factor to increased mortality, vaccinations have been prioritised to care home residents and staff and those over 80, followed by health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. If a teacher, school or childcare worker is identified as being in one of the at-risk cohorts, they will be contacted by the NHS at the appropriate time based on JCVI advice. It is estimated that when phase one concludes, estimated to be Spring 2021 at the earliest, twenty-five million people will have been offered the Covid-19 vaccine.

To enable this to happen, the NHS has been working alongside its health and social care partners to ensure the vaccine can be administered safely and effectively as part of the largest vaccination programme undertaken in its history. Following months of comprehensive planning, 60 hospital hubs and over 500 Local Vaccination Services are currently administering vaccinations across England, with more expected. Mass vaccination centres will also be ready to come into operation at the start of 2021, when more vaccines come online. This has been a monumental effort by all those involved which has allowed 500,000 people to receive the first global Covid-19 vaccine to date. In the future, it is expected that this will pick up pace as new vaccination sites open and further vaccine supplies become available.

At the same time, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations continues to review its advice to the government based on the live data it receives. Whilst phase one is currently aimed at reducing mortality based on age and clinical risk factors, phase two may be aimed at vaccinating those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services. Further data will confirm the next steps going forward and the Department of Health and Social Care will listen carefully to the independent experts and work closely with its partners to best implement this.

Education is incredibly important, and it is clear that the risks to the progress and overall wellbeing of children from being kept out of school are greater than being in school. For that reason, the government will continue its efforts to enable teachers, school and childcare staff to be able to work safely in the classroom.

Department of Health and Social Care

This response was given on 20 January 2021. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.