Teachers and bus drivers given new spot in updated coronavirus vaccine priority list
Teachers, bus drivers and the military could be next in line for a Covid-19 jab once the highest risk groups have been vaccinated, a new report suggests.
Vaccine experts advising the Government have published a detailed list of who should get offered the Covid-19 jab as a priority.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said care home residents were among those who should be given the jab first.
The committee examined data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.
It published interim guidance earlier in the year but this has now been amended slightly detailing who should be first in “phase one” of the mass vaccination programme which includes those at highest risk of disease.
Once this phase is complete the JCVI has suggested that those who are at increased risk of Covid-19 because of their work could be offered the vaccine next.
JVCI experts have said that they have not yet offered official advice about future phases of the roll out.
But a new document published by the advisory body states: “Vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure to Sars-CoV-2 due to their occupation could also be a priority in the next phase.
“This could include first responders, the military, those involved in the justice system, teachers, transport workers and public servants essential to the pandemic response.”
In the new “phase one” guidance, those who are deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable” have moved higher up the priority list.
The priority list for “phase one” of the Covid-19 vaccination programme is:
– Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
– All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
– All those 75 years of age and over
– All those 70 years of age and over and people deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable
– All those 65 years of age and over
– All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
– All those 60 years of age and over
– All those 55 years of age and over
– All those 50 years of age and over.
The JCVI guidance states that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine “appears to be safe and well-tolerated and there were no clinically concerning safety observations”.
The document sets out why officials have come to the conclusions they have for the priority list.
It also states that the JVCI has taken a “precautionary” approach in advising that pregnant women should not get the vaccine because there is “no data as yet on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy”.
The guidance adds: “Women should be advised not to come forward for vaccination if they may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy within three months of the first dose.”
Meanwhile only very specific high-risk children should be offered the vaccine, the document adds.
“Following infection, almost all children will have asymptomatic infection or mild disease,” it said.
“There are very limited data on vaccination in adolescents, with no data on vaccination in younger children, at this time.
“The Committee advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination.”
The JCVI’s chair for Covid-19 immunisation told a Downing Street briefing that the phase one of the vaccination programme would protect those most at risk as well as health and social care workers.
Professor Wei Shen Lim told a Number 10 briefing that from then on the programme would see a banding system, whereby those in the oldest age groups are vaccinated first.
He said he hoped that in the first phase of the vaccine programme 99% of the most clinically vulnerable would be covered.
He said: “Prioritisation was based on the risk of dying from Covid-19 and, in order to protect the most vulnerable, we have prioritised the most vulnerable individuals first.
“The other element is protection of the NHS and the health and social care system, because by protecting the NHS we also protect lives.”
The respiratory doctor told the briefing: “The JCVI advice is aimed at maximising benefit from vaccines and therefore it’s aimed at the most vulnerable people – which are people in care homes.
“Whether or not the vaccine itself can be delivered to care homes is obviously an important point, and there will be some flexibility in terms of operational constraints.
“The JCVI’s advice is that every effort should be made to supply vaccines and offer vaccinations to care home residents, whether or not that is actually doable is dependent on deployment and implementation.”
He added: “The whole reason why a priority listing is required is because we expect, during a pandemic, that vaccine supply will be limited in the first instance.”
The JCVI’s Wei Shen Lim said England’s regional tiers would have no influence on the distribution of the vaccine.
“Our prioritisation order is not dependent on which tier somebody is in, it is a national prioritisation order,” he said.
Commenting on the priority list for phase one of the vaccine rollout, Gemma Peters, chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, said: “This is brilliant news for the whole country, and no group will be cheering it louder than people with blood cancer, given how vulnerable they are to the virus.
“We are delighted the Government has confirmed the vaccine is safe to give to people with blood cancer who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and that they will be prioritised along with people aged over 70.”