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Early years sector seeks clarity on vaccination access

By Rachel Lawlercovid 19 coronavirus vaccine early years staff nursery childminder

The Alliance, PACEY and NDNA, have issued a joint statement following conflicting reports about access to covid-19 vaccinations for early years providers.

A number of providers have reported being able to book appointments for coronavirus vaccinations after the self-referral site was opened up to social care workers as well as vulnerable groups and healthcare staff. However, there have also been reports of providers being turned down for appointments.

There has been no change to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)’s position on prioritisation for the vaccine and the roll-out is still progressing through its first phase priority groups – which does not include those working with “children under 16 who do not have underlying health conditions leading to greater risk of disease or mortality and children who have no underlying health conditions”.

Social care workers
Reports circulating on social media have suggested that the information listed on the National Careers Service website includes early years providers, including nursery staff and childminders, are classed as social care workers and should therefore be included in this phase of the roll out.

However, the National Careers Service has clarified that its site is not intended to be used for prioritising staff for vaccines. In a statement, it said: "The National Careers Service allows people to explore career choices and opportunities, broadening their career horizons. The National Careers Service does not serve to present a strict classification of professional groupings and should be not used to prioritise staff for Covid-19 vaccines."

Post-code lottery
In a joint statement, the Alliance, PACEY and NDNA said: “We are aware that a number of early years providers and their staff have been able to book appointments for coronavirus vaccines after the online booking system was opened up to social care workers for self-referral this week. However, we also know that some early years providers have been turned away at centres and from the 119 booking system.

“There has been no change to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)’s position on prioritisation for the vaccine and the roll-out is still progressing through its first phase priority groups. That said, we know that some providers may find that their local authorities have been able to offer vaccines to key workers where local availability allows.

“We continue to make the case for Covid-19 vaccines to be made available to all early years providers across the country, once the most vulnerable have received their vaccine, and are calling for clear and official guidance to avoid any ambiguity on this. Vaccinations for early years providers must be offered on a national basis and providers should not have to contend with a post-code lottery for access to the protection they deserve as they carry out their vital roles.”