25 February 2021
Reports that the Government will make a decision that prisoners will receive a vaccine against the deadly Covid-19 virus ahead of those working in policing or teachers have been branded as perverse.
According to a report in today’s Times newspaper, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said teachers, police and other key workers should not get priority for Covid jabs.
But that prisoners can be vaccinated en masse.
This could see a bizarre situation where a criminal who is jailed for coughing or spitting at a police officer - threatening to infect them with Covid-19 - will get a vaccine for the virus before the police officer they attacked.
According to the most recent Crown Prosecution Service data, assaults on emergency workers were 'most common coronavirus-related crime' between 1 April and 30 September 2020 with 1,688 offences charged.
Many of these involved police officers being coughed and spat on.
Jamie McTear, Secretary of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “Reports that prisoners are to receive the Covid-19 vaccine before key workers such as police officers and teachers are perverse. How can this be justified?
“Our colleagues across the country are out there every day keeping people safe, travelling from home to home, never knowing where they could be next. They could be carrying this virus and risk themselves, their family and the public.
“We’ve seen today that assaults on police officers are up 14% year on year – with many of those being officers being spat and or coughed at… it’s simply bizarre that those perpetrating those crimes could get the Covid-19 vaccine before the cops they assault.”
Earlier in February, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - and that they will not be prioritised.
Despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing over police officers needing to have a level of priority for the vaccine to keep themselves, their families and the public safe, Mr Hancock said officers will not be prioritised until after groups 1-9, as deemed by the JCVI.
So, they will not be eligible for the vaccine until after the first 32 million people in the country have received it. And that is likely to be May. Officers who fall into the first 9 groups – via age or with underlying health conditions – will receive the vaccine that way.