Early years Covid vaccine: Could the Government prioritise nursery staff for vaccines?

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Vaccine priority lists drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) include 10 groups of high-risk individuals. Most vulnerable people either fall into the 65+ age bracket or have a chronic health condition. Social care staff can also get the jab via self-referral, which was recently opened to the public.

Could the Government prioritise nursery staff for vaccines?

The latest move by the Government allows people to self-book vaccinations for themselves.

Some workers in the social care sector – which includes early years providers – can receive a vaccine now.

But early years providers have had trouble signing up for the service.

According to the Early Years Alliance, some providers have successfully booked vaccine appointments.

But others have been turned down, creating a confusing situation for the sector.

The Alliance and two other organisations have noted the issue and released a joint statement.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said the JCVI priority list remains unchanged.

They added some key workers could get a vaccine, but only where supply allows.

They 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’s (JCVI’s) position on prioritisation for the vaccine and the roll-out is still progressing through its first phase priority groups.”

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“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.”

The organisations added they have continued to push for early years providers to get the jab.

But not until the UK’s most vulnerable cohorts have had theirs.

They added: “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 postcode lottery for access to the protection they deserve as they carry out their vital roles.”

The JCVI has created 10 priority groups, and the first nine need to receive their vaccine before the rest of the population.

Health officials have said they hope to vaccinate the most vulnerable cohorts by the end of the month.

The rest of the population may have to wait a little longer, possibly until autumn.

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