Wednesday 27 January 2021 / 12:20 PM Coronavirus / Jonathan Ashworth

Labour calls for the Government to prioritise key workers in ramped up vaccination strategy

Labour is calling for keyworkers in critical professions to be added to the first phase of the vaccination programme, alongside JCVI categories 5-9. This comes as Keir Starmer pressed the Prime Minister to vaccinate teachers and support staff in February half-term as part of a national effort to get children back in the classroom.

As deaths from the virus reached the tragic 100,000 milestone, Labour is calling for a faster, wider, vaccination programme where keyworkers most at risk of exposure are prioritised alongside those most likely to become seriously ill. Labour’s call for an expanded first-phase would see the JCVI draw up a list of critical workers prioritised for the vaccine alongside over 50s, 60s, and people with underlying health conditions.

Labour wants to see teachers and support staff vaccinated in the February half-term as part of a national effort to reopen schools. There is growing evidence that vaccination can reduce transmission, meaning school classes would not be disrupted due to teachers testing positive for the virus.

The call comes as this week the ONS published new statistics showing that those who work in settings with regular exposure to Covid-19 and in close proximity to others have higher Covid-19 death rates when compared to the rest of the population. While the first phase of vaccination roll out has been rightly been focused on reducing deaths and hospitalisations, labour are calling for vaccinations for keyworkers most exposed and most likely to transmit the virus, once those at highest risk of severe illness are most protected by mid-February.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“The NHS rightly deserve congratulations for their impressive and speedy roll out of vaccinations. But now we need to go further and faster. Not only will vaccination acceleration save lives it will help us to carefully and responsibly reopen our economy and crucially ensure children are back in school as transmission reduces.”

“Ministers must bring forward plans to vaccinate key workers as soon as possible. Police officers, teachers, fire fighters and transport workers are just some of the key workers who have kept society functioning through this pandemic and are more exposed to the virus. We cannot afford to slow our vaccination efforts now.”