Teachers are seen as a possible priority for the next phase of coronavirus vaccine rollout, a member of the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) said.
Professor Adam Finn said committee members had been directed to work out a plan by mid-February to prioritize who should be vaccinated next.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday program that while he could not predict what priorities would be set, the “crucial role” of teachers “will really play a role in the discussions.”
The Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Bristol said, “As you can see, these considerations become social values in a way that goes beyond the criteria we normally use to represent pressures on healthcare.”
When asked about the position of teachers on the priority list, he said, “I cannot predict exactly what priorities will be set, but I can say that we will discuss this and work out a plan, and I can say so if this is the case Case is I think we all appreciate the crucial role they all play and that is really going to play a part in the discussions. “
The NASUWT teachers union said that despite the lockdown, too many children are returning to school, which puts it at high risk of transmitting the virus.
Primary and secondary schools in England have moved to distance learning for most students but remain open to the children of key workers and those who are considered at risk.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, “It has always been the guidance that schools for key workers’ children are where key workers must have the children in school to get to work.”
He added, “For example, if you are a key worker and your partner is not working, you should not send your children to school. That is clear in the manual. The reason we keep schools open to the children of key workers is because of course that this is important.
“For example, it is important that key NHS staff, but not just the NHS, can come to work, so it is very difficult to strike a balance.”
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer said meeting vaccination program goals was the best way to get schools back on track.
But he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that classroom reopening needn’t depend on teachers being vaccinated.
Urged when asked if reopening depends on teachers being vaccinated, he said, “No, I don’t know that it necessarily does, although it would be a good thing if it could happen.
“This argument that there are sectors where there is a very strong argument in favor of vaccination for obvious reasons, and I understand that, and we have to be very open about it.
“But for now we need to focus on those who are most likely to go to the hospital and tragically die.”