Home secretary: Government 'working to vaccinate frontline workers'

Home Secretary Priti Patel says work is being done to bring forward Covid vaccinations for police

Home Secretary Priti Patel says work is being done to bring forward Covid vaccinations for police - Credit: Dominic Lipinsk/PA/Danielle Booden

Work is being done to move frontline workers such as police officers up the vaccination priority list, according to the home secretary.

Priti Patel confirmed there was a desire within government to "make it happen" as pressure grows to protect those coming into regular contact with the public. 

Police conducting coronavirus lockdown patrols in Eaton Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

There have been calls for police officers to be vaccinated sooner - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

But Norfolk Police Federation (NPF) says "action, rather than nice warm words," is needed, as officers deal with being spat at and assaulted while on duty.  

Ms Patel told the BBC on Wednesday that she and health secretary, Matt Hanock, were liaising with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which produced the initial priority list.

Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether she wanted police officers to be "bumped up the queue", Ms Patel said: "It's police, fire and other frontline workers.

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Home secretary Priti Patel says work is being done to bring forward Covid vaccinations for "frontline workers" - Credit: PA

"And the health secretary and I are working to absolutely try and make that happen.

"This isn't just something we are thinking about. There is a lot of work taking place in government right now.

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"If the JCVI says that is a possibility, we can make it happen. We have the supply, we have the logistical plans in place, we will absolutely work to make that happen."

The first phase of the vaccination programme is to inoculate the nine priority groups identified by the JCVI.

The top four - due to be vaccinated by mid-February - includes everyone over 70, care home residents, frontline health and care workers, and patients deemed extremely clinically vulnerable.

From February to April, proceedings will focus on 50 to 69-year-olds and anyone over 16 with a serious underlying health condition.

Details on subsequent plans have not yet been revealed, but Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has said he would immunise teachers and key workers "before some of the vulnerable elderly."

Andy Symonds, chairman of NPF, called Ms Patel's comments "positive", but said there needed to be concrete progress. 

"We've been trying to tell politicians for weeks how our officers face a unique risk," added My Symonds.

Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds. Picture: Police Federation

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation - Credit: Police Federation

"They cannot do their jobs socially distanced or from home, and sadly there are people spitting at and assaulting them, saying they have Covid. 

"We don't want to jump the queue, but it's important there is another assessment of the priorities."

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