9 February 2021
Furious police officers have described the Government’s decision to deny the country’s Cops priority for the Covid-19 vaccine as a “clear betrayal” and a “kick in the teeth”.
Mark Andrews, Chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said the Government snub to police officers was a “failing in their duty of care towards those they expect to protect others”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers in no uncertain terms that they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - and that they will not be prioritised.
Mr Hancock told a press conference yesterday (8 February) that officers will not be vaccinated until after groups 1-9, as deemed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which means they will have to wait for 32 million others to get the jab first.
Mark said this represented a “failure” on the Government’s duty of care towards police officers who are working hard to protect the nation during the pandemic.
He said: “I hear daily of officers who have become seriously ill or have died as a result of catching the virus whilst carrying out their duties. This is unacceptable when the means to protect them is at hand.
“The Government are failing in their duty of care towards those they expect to protect others. This is a clear betrayal and any trust in them is being significantly reduced. They need to look again at this decision and give priority to the police as a matter of urgency. No other officer should die for doing their job.”
The Government decision to not prioritise police officers has come despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that police officers should be vaccinated “as soon as possible”, whilst Home Secretary Priti Patel told policing to “get ready” for officers to receive the vaccine.
Mark added: “Since the great news of a vaccine came at the end of last year, I have been pushing for our officers to be vaccinated. This is why I was heartened by the supportive words from our Home Secretary and Prime Minister over recent weeks, both who seemed to get the fact we needed to be given the vaccination is a priority.
“I felt they understood the risk our front line were facing and they were beginning to understand and appreciate our efforts since the start of the pandemic. To hear last night from Matt Hancock that we now have to wait until the completion of the stage 1 roll out is a kick in the teeth for all of us who serve - and yet another example of how we cannot rely on kind words from our politicians.”
Mr Hancock told the press conference: “We have ensured, through the clinical advice that we’ve taken, that the vaccine rollout goes through those who are most at risk first. So any police officer who is aged over 50 will be part of the initial rollout through the current groups down to what I call the JCVI cohorts 1-9, from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations which advises us on the clinical basis for the order.
“After that we will then look at what order we go next and we’ll consider, for instance, questions of people who are in professions where you might have to be in contact with more people and the impact of the vaccine on transmission and make a decision and publicise it as soon as we’ve made that decision.
“No decision has yet been made in what order we’ll go after the JCVI cohorts 1-9 but we’re looking very closely, including at where police officers should be in that order.”