Calls for education sector to be prioritised for vaccines
By Rachel Lawler
The Alliance, allongside other leading education organisations, children’s services organisations and unions is urging the government to ensure that those working in early years settings, schools and colleges, as well as staff and carers supporting vulnerable children, are prioritised in Phase 2 of the Covid vaccination programme, following reports that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is not recommending an occupation-focused approach to the next stage of the rollout.
The government has previously suggested that critical workers, including those in the education sector, could be prioritised for vaccinations after the completion of Phase 1 of the roll-out, which focused on protecting those most at risk of serious illness or death from Covid and is expected to be completed by the end of April.
However, according to recent reports, following a meeting on 16 February, the JCVI is likely to recommend that Phase 2 vaccinations are prioritised on the basis of age, and not occupation.
Organisations calling on the Department for Health and Social Care and the JCVI to ensure that those working in the education sector are prioritised for the second phase of the vaccination rollout. include:
- Early Years Alliance
- National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
- Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)
- Association of Colleges (AoC)
- The National Education Union (NEU)
- NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union
- Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS)
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “It is unthinkable that having asked those in the early years sector to put their own health, and the wellbeing of their loved ones, at risk during lockdown, the government would even consider not ensuring that they are prioritised for the next phase of Covid-19. The vast majority of those working in the early years do not have the option to work from home – they are on the frontline every day caring for and educating young children who do not and cannot socially distance.
“With Covid cases in early years settings continuing to rise sharply, it is absolutely critical that all those working in nurseries, pre-schools and childminding settings, along with other education colleagues, are given the protection they need to continue doing their jobs as safely as possible.”