Police officers and techers could jump the vaccine queue in the next phase of rollout (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Half a million police officers and teachers could jump the vaccine queue if they are prioritised in the next phase of the rollout.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi also suggested he would be in favour of including retail workers in the same priority grouping after the most clinically vulnerable have received their jabs.
He said those who cannot work from home should be considered for prioritisation as the vaccination programme develops due to their coming into close contact with the public.
However, setting aside jabs for such a large number of people could be controversial as it would leave others deemed vulnerable in different ways waiting even longer.
The decision on who should receive the vaccine and when is determined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The committee is expected to meet on Thursday to decide who should be prioritised in the second phase of the rollout.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Zahawi told ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday: ‘When we enter phase two, we will work with the Joint Committee (on Vaccination and Immunisation) to look at the priority.
‘My instinct is that anyone who, through no fault of their own, has to come into contact with the virus in much greater volume and probability should be protected – teachers, policemen and women, shop workers, all those who need that additional protection.
‘Now, some of them will be captured in the top nine categories anyway if they are clinically vulnerable, for example, or in that age group of the over-50s which are in category nine, effectively.
‘But phase two – of course we’ll be guided by the JCVI – but my instinct is that if you work in a job, a shop worker, policemen or women, any other profession which brings you into contact with the virus unfairly, then I think you should be prioritised.’
Number 10 later added that would be guided by the JCVI on whether shop workers should be among those prioritised in phase two of the vaccine programme.
NHS staff administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at Totally Wicked Stadium (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We’ve always said we want to ensure that those who are most at risk, most clinically vulnerable, receive the vaccine first and that is what we are doing.
‘But it is for the JCVI to look at phase two and advise where the vaccine priority will be after phase one, but I point you to (Health Secretary) Matt Hancock’s words last week.
‘I believe he said there is a strong case for professionals who come into contact with a lot of other people to be prioritised as part of phase two, along with the words of the vaccine minister this morning.’
Pressed on whether Boris Johnson agreed with the statements made by his ministers, the spokesman added: ‘It is for the JCVI to advise on who should be prioritised as part of phase two but we have set out that there are some professions that interact with a lot of people and with the public who (could) feature high in that priority list.’
There are 408,615 teachers under the age of 50 in state-funded English schools who would not have been offered the vaccine in phase one. The figure does not include teachers in the private sector.
And there are around 129,000 police officers under the age of 55 in England and Wales.
That total of more than half a million will be higher when teachers and police officers from the rest of the UK are included.
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