Martyn Underhill has coordinated a letter, co-signed by police and council leadership, making the request to the chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises health departments on immunisation.
The letter suggests that police officers and staff as well as frontline council workers such as teachers should be offered vaccinations in the same way that health and social workers have already been prioritised.
The letter reads:
Collectively we stand alongside our NHS and Social Care colleagues, and we support the Government position to offer priority vaccinations to frontline health and social care workers.
However, the public sector is only as strong as its weakest link, and both councils and policing are already offering significant support to our wider health colleagues in their endeavours. It is therefore of concern that as infection rates continue to rise, the ability of our workforce to support the shared testing and vaccination efforts will diminish.
The signatories also suggest, given the current availability of the vaccines, that offering testing for council and police workers might be more achievable.They state: “We are currently in a challenging position where the very significant majority of our absences from work are due to self-isolation, with colleagues waiting for tests (or results), or unable to easily access testing facilities, rather than being absent due to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“A locally implemented and maintained lateral flow testing network would enable us to rapidly turnaround tests and enable our workforce to return to their critical duties soonest.”
Martyn Underhill said, “Ideally, we would want to see both testing and vaccination programmes for police officers and other frontline staff, enabling us to ensure we are still able to provide a quality service to the public as the country struggles through the darkest days of the pandemic.
“But we recognise the hugely complex challenges of managing the mass vaccination programme, and that we therefore have to be pragmatic. We accept there may be limitations, but we are asking the JCVI to extend the current provision of key worker support beyond health and social care staff.”
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