People in their 40s next in line for Covid jabs, with no priority for teachers and police

26 February 2021, 11:15 | Updated: 26 February 2021, 12:15

People aged 40-49 will be next in line for the vaccine
People aged 40-49 will be next in line for the vaccine. Picture: PA

By Megan White

People aged 40-49 will be prioritised next for a Covid-19 vaccine, with scientific advisers saying the 'Phase 2' move would "provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time".

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has considered whether frontline groups such as teachers and police officers should be vaccinated next, but concluded that the most effective way to prevent death and hospital admission is to carry on prioritising people by age.

It said modelling studies for phase 2 of the vaccination programme also indicate that the speed of vaccine deployment is the most important factor in helping prevent severe illness and death.

Read more: Queen urges those worried about Covid jab to 'think about others rather than themselves'

This means that in phase 2, priority will be given in the following order:

- All those aged 40-49

- All those aged 30-39

- All those aged 18-29

These groups will be vaccinated once all those in phase 1 (the over-50s and most vulnerable) have received a jab.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said: "Vaccinations stop people from dying and the current strategy is to prioritise those who are more likely to have severe outcomes and die from Covid-19.

"The evidence is clear that the risk of hospitalisation and death increases with age.

A general view of the outside of the Arnison Vaccination Centre in Durham
A general view of the outside of the Arnison Vaccination Centre in Durham. Picture: Getty

"The vaccination programme is a huge success and continuing the age-based rollout will provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time, including to those in occupations at a higher risk of exposure."

Online Covid vaccine calculator estimates how soon you're likely to get the coronavirus jab

The JCVI committee said vaccination targeting occupational groups (such as teachers) would be more complex to deliver and may slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some vulnerable people at higher risk for longer.

It also said that, operationally, simple and easy-to-deliver programmes are "critical for rapid deployment and high vaccine uptake".

A Government spokesperson said: “The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has today published its interim advice for phase two of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, setting out that the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age.

"This is because age is assessed to be the strongest factor linked to mortality, morbidity and hospitalisations, and because the speed of delivery is crucial as we provide more people with protection from COVID-19.

“All four parts of the UK will follow the recommended approach, subject to the final advice given by the independent expert committee. The UK Government remains on course to meet its target to offer a vaccine to all those in the phase one priority groups by mid-April, and all adults by the end of July.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England (PHE), said: "Delivering a vaccination programme on this scale is incredibly complex and the JCVI's advice will help us continue protecting individuals from the risk of hospitalisation at pace.

"The age-based approach will ensure more people are protected more quickly.

"It is crucial that those at higher risk - including men and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic communities) communities - are encouraged to take the vaccine, and that local health systems are fully engaged and reaching out to under-served communities to ensure they can access the vaccine."

Responding to the announcement, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m pleased the JCVI have today unveiled what phase 2 of the vaccination program will look like, giving more clarity to Londoners about when they may be invited to take the jab.

“The JCVI are clear that age should be the key factor in determining the next stage of the vaccine rollout. Yet I continue to urge ministers to do more to monitor if frontline key workers such as police officers, transport workers, school staff and shop workers, and those from BAME communities, who have disproportionately been impacted by the virus, still need more protection.

“Many people aged 16 to 65 with health conditions are now eligible for the vaccine, but as the restrictions start to be lifted, it is even more important that the Government make sure that vulnerable people aren’t going out to work being left exposed to the virus. Among groups such as care workers, a worrying number of people still haven’t had the jab – this must be addressed by ministers as a matter of urgency, alongside an increased drive to tackle vaccine hesitancy.

“My message to Londoners is clear – the vaccine is safe, and in taking the jab you’re protecting both you and your family. So if you’re invited to take the vaccine, please take it.”

On Thursday, Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh criticised the Government over the move, saying: "It's absolutely disgusting - they don't give a damn about us.

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel should hang their heads in shame."

One in five adults in England aged under 70 have had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to new data.

Provisional figures from NHS England, published on Thursday, show that 16,337,561 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and February 24, including first and second dose - a rise of 411,146 on the previous day's figures.

Of this number, 15,794,992 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 396,937 on the previous day, while 542,569 were a second dose, an increase of 14,209.

An estimated 20.3% of people aged 16 to 69 had received their first jab as of February 21.

The estimates show little variation between the regions, ranging from 17.2% in London to 22.3% in north-west England.

Some 94% of residents of older adult care homes in England eligible to have their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine had received the jab by February 21, NHS England said.

Residents are classed as eligible for the vaccine if they have not had Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.

The equivalent figure for staff of older care homes is 71.5%.

But only 54.8% of eligible staff at older care homes in London are estimated to have received their first jab.

Some 54.2% of social care staff at younger adult care homes and domiciliary care providers and 53.9% of staff at other settings including "non-registered providers and local authority employed" had received their first jab, the data showed.

In other developments:

- The Queen has urged those hesitant about the coronavirus jab to be vaccinated and encouraged them to "think about other people rather than themselves".

- Positive attitudes towards the coronavirus vaccine have increased, with 94% of adults saying they have either received the jab or would be likely to have it if offered, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.

- New research from the British Red Cross has indicated eight in 10 people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities trust information about vaccines from family members more than from the Government and the media.

- Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said employers such as care homes must have a "clear rationale" if they want to require new staff to have the coronavirus vaccination as a condition of employment.