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Officers Need Priority Vaccines

It is “astonishing” that frontline police officers have not been given a level of priority by the Government for the COVID-19 vaccine, West Yorkshire Police Federation has said.

Chairman Brian Booth said that although officers are in the middle of keeping people safe from COVID-19 – at no small degree of risk to themselves and their families – amazingly they are not in the queue for the vaccine.

While frontline health and social care workers are second in the Government’s published priority list for the vaccine roll-out, police officers do not feature at all on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Brian said: “We have heard no mention of police officers being on the list to be vaccinated as soon as possible. There’s been no discussion whatsoever around my colleagues. It’s astonishing, and sadly shows what they think of us.

“My colleagues have remained at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, putting themselves and their families at risk to ensure we try to keep the general public safe.

“I am dismayed to see that there is no prioritisation in relation to the vaccine being administered.

“This means for the vast majority of officers, they are likely to be vaccinated mid-2021. In the meantime, they are continuing to police difficult situations where it is not possible to mitigate risk – for example arresting a violent individual. No PPE is strong enough to stay in place during a struggle, and it puts the officer at risk of infection.

“I hope that this is reconsidered by Government, as officers are in the unique position of not being able to control the environment that they work in; this differs greatly to other frontline workers. The vaccination will mean our police remain match-fit for what they face day to day.”

According to the Government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation “does not advise further prioritisation by occupation during the first phase of the programme”.

It added: “Occupational prioritisation could form part of a second phase of the programme, which would include healthy individuals from 16 years of age up to 50 years of age, subject to consideration of the latest data on vaccine safety and effectiveness.”

Brian concluded: “We must be given a level of priority when the COVID-19 vaccine is more widely rolled out.
“Officers need to be vaccinated as soon as possible with every frontline worker who is helping the national effort. Behind each officer is a family with potential vulnerability.”

Date posted: January 15, 2021

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