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TEACHERS are to be considered as a possible priority for the coronavirus vaccine, it was announced today.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), confirmed that teachers would be considered for the next phase of the rollout at a meeting on Thursday.
He said committee members had been instructed to confirm a plan by the middle of February to determine the priority order of who should be vaccinated next.
The professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that the “critical role” teachers play “really will figure in the discussions.”
It comes as the NASUWT teachers’ union said too many children were returning to school despite the national lockdown, resulting in a high risk of the virus being transmitted.
The union urged Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take heed of Prof Finn’s comments.
It said that prioritising vaccination of teachers and school staff would help to avoid “further disruption to [children’s] education.”
Primary and secondary schools in England have moved to remote learning for most pupils, but remain open for the children of key workers and those deemed vulnerable.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that delivering on the vaccine programme targets was the best way of reopening schools for all children.
He added, however, that reopening classrooms did not need to depend on vaccinating teachers, even though it “would be a good thing.”
Sir Keir said on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “But at the moment, we do need to focus on those who are most likely to go into hospital and tragically to die.”
Schools had to close because the risk of asymptomatic transmission was greater in children, the government has said.
But Mr Hancock told Sky News at the weekend that “the risk to children is extremely low and there’s no evidence of more teachers catching Covid than any other profession. So that means schools are safe.”
Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said parents would be “hugely frustrated” by the government’s “mixed messages.”
She said: “They deserve to know why the Health Secretary is saying that teachers are no more at risk of catching Covid while just a few days ago, the Prime Minister said that schools were vectors of transmission.”
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