Letter: Jumping the vaccination queue

Submitted by AWL on 23 February, 2021 - 9:31
Vaccination queue

Jumping the vaccination queue

I thought the call for school workers to be bumped up the vaccination queue had faded, because it was originally advocated as vaccination in half-term (mostly week 15-19 Feb).

Not so. My local Labour Party passed a motion on 17 Feb for bumping up the queue. It was motivated by sympathy and appreciation for school workers, but as a teacher myself I argued against it.

We’re for requisitioning Big Pharma to speed vaccine supplies. Even then vaccination will take time. Not everyone can be first.

The vaccines drastically reduce death and severe illness from Covid. The risk of death and severe illness is hugely greater for the old and vulnerable.

So the decision by the scientists (JCVI) to prioritise by age and vulnerability makes sense.

There are about a million school workers full-time equivalent in state schools in England. So “vaccinate school workers first” would mean bumping well over a million people up the queue.

A million young and healthy school workers bumped up the queue to get in before 12-week second jabs for those vaccinated in January means a million ageing and vulnerable people bumped down. Plus maybe another million with vaccinations delayed by time lost while changing from a simple schedule to a much more complex one.

The JCVI is open to occupational prioritisation after jabs are done for the elderly and vulnerable. Even then, I don’t think we school workers should jostle to be first.

What about the elderly and vulnerable in poor countries? Teachers have a Covid death rate similar to the general working-age population. What about groups which have markedly higher Covid death rates? Bus workers, supermarket workers, security guards?

Chris Reynolds, London

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