Closed petition Prioritise COVID-19 vaccines for first responders (police, fire, ambulance)

The British Government need to prioritise and deploy the COVID-19 vaccine to First Responders alongside NHS workers. First Responders are at a higher risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 due to their increased level of exposure with the general public every day and lack of regular testing.

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First Responders risk their lives every day to keep the public safe. Prioritising vaccines to First Responders alongside NHS workers will:
• Ensure protection and safety of their health whilst carrying out their jobs on the frontline
• Lower the risk of easily contracting/transmitting COVID-19 to co-workers, their families, and the general public
• Help retain personnel and reduce sick-leave
• Increase public confidence knowing that First Responders have been vaccinated ensuring public safety

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 February 2021

For phase 1 of the roll-out, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s principles and advice are; to reduce mortality, to protect the health and social care systems, and to save lives.

Read the response in full

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.

The government and the NHS are working hard to ensure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by mid-February. Over 12.6 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly half a million have received their second dose. There are now over 2700 sites across the UK already offering vaccines to those at risk by age and clinical priority.

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. The committee’s membership 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 as new data emerges.

For phase one of the vaccine roll-out, the underlying principles at the forefront of the advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are; to reduce mortality, to protect the health and social care systems, and to save lives. 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.

Frontline health and social care workers are at increased personal risk of exposure to infection with COVID-19 and of transmitting that infection to susceptible and vulnerable patients in health and social care settings. The committee considers frontline health and social care workers who provide care to vulnerable people a high priority for vaccination. First responders who are healthcare professionals, are prioritised in the first phase of the vaccination roll-out. Police officers, and those serving in the fire service, are not currently prioritised for vaccination in phase 1 and there are no plans to deviate from the advice set out by the JCVI.

In addition, if a first responder 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.

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.

Finally, we thank the first responders for all the incredible work they have been doing throughout the pandemic, and we are working hard to ensure everyone who has been clinically prioritised to receive a vaccine will have access to a vaccine as soon as possible.

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/564155)

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Original Government response

For phase I of the vaccine roll-out the key principles of advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are to reduce mortality, to protect the health and care systems, and save lives.

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.

The government and the NHS are working hard to ensure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by mid-February. 4.6 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly half a million have received their second dose. There are now over 2700 sites across the UK already offering vaccines to those at risk by age and clinical priority. 993 local vaccination services, 206 hospital hubs and 17 large scale vaccination centres have been established across England. The network will continue to expand and evolve as we progress the deployment in the months ahead. We will expand the programme so all adults can be vaccinated by the autumn.

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. The committee’s membership 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 as new data emerges.

For phase one of the vaccine roll-out, the underlying principles at the forefront of the advice by the JCVI are to reduce mortality, to protect the health and social care systems, and to save lives. Given the current epidemiological situation in the UK, 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 aged over 80, followed by health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

Frontline health and social care workers are at increased personal risk of exposure to infection with COVID-19 and of transmitting that infection to susceptible and vulnerable patients in health and social care settings. The JCVI considers frontline health and social care workers who provide care to vulnerable people a high priority for vaccination. Staff involved in direct patient care are included in the definition, as are paramedics and ambulance drivers as they too form part of this priority cohort and are categorised as frontline healthcare workers. In addition, if a first responder is identified as being in one of the at-risk cohorts, they will be contacted by the NHS at the appropriate time based on the JCVI’s advice.

The JCVI 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 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.

Finally, we thank the first responders for all the incredible work that they have been doing throughout the pandemic, and we give our assurances that we are working hard to ensure everyone who has been clinically prioritised to receive a vaccine will have access to a vaccine as soon as possible.

Department of Health and Social Care

This response was given on 27 January 2021. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.