Politics

‘What about police?’ Nick Ferrari confronts Robert Buckland over vaccine priority

Vaccine: Buckland says prisoners ‘will not get priority’

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The Justice Secretary has been confronted over reports that inmates in UK prisons may receive priority in the Covid vaccination rollout ahead of key frontline workers. Mr Buckland was forced to defend the policy on LBC against Nick Ferrari with the radio host demanding to know why police officers, teachers and firefighters were not at the top of the list for a jab. It comes as the NHS is rapidly making its way through the vaccine priority list, with all over 50s set to be given an injection by April 15.

Ferrari told the Minister during his LBC show on Friday morning: “We could have a situation where prisoners get the vaccine ahead of teachers, police officers, firefighters.”

He asked: “Would you support that Mr Buckland ?”

“Prisoners will not be getting priority at the moment,” replied the Justice Secretary

“They are vaccinated in accordance with the current guidelines in accordance with what’s happening in the community.”

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“The JCVI has not, as you correctly said, reported yet and I am not going to speculate as to what’s in that document or any other accompanying document.

“I think what is clear is that the need for speed is everything here.”

He added: “I will be supporting anything that gives us speed and maximises the impact of the vaccines.”

“If the JCVI recommends prisoners go ahead of teachers ?” pressed Ferrari.

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Mr Buckland responded: “I don’t precisely what they are going to say,

“Prison are a close environment like care homes and other places

I have got to think about the welfare of staff and I have been particularly anxious to make sure prison staff get the vaccine.

“I think they like everybody else in the population want to see this done quicky.”

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Tonight the Health Secretary will confirm how the Government intends to go about vaccinating all adults under-50 by its deadline of July 31.

The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which is made up of medical professionals and scientists, made its recommendations on how to rollout the jab to the rest of the adult population earlier this week.

In a blow to Sir Keir Starmer, who has repeatedly called for teachers to be next in line to get a Covid antidote, the JCVI is understood to have recommended the Government continues to implement its immunisation programme based on age.

Speaking to the Commons science and technology committee on Wednesday, Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of the JCVI, said teachers were at no greater risk of catching coronavirus.

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