Shop workers being considered as priority for Covid-19 vaccine, Matt Hancock says

12 January 2021, 14:22 | Updated: 12 January 2021, 18:11

The Health Secretary said the total number of people in the UK to have received their first dose now stands at more than 2.3 million
The Health Secretary said the total number of people in the UK to have received their first dose now stands at more than 2.3 million. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Shop workers are being considered alongside police officers and teachers as a priority in the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, Matt Hancock has said.

It comes amid growing concerns that too many shoppers are flouting safety measures.

Supermarket staff said on Tuesday that compulsory mask-wearing and limits on the number of people in stores are being routinely ignored.

Answering questions on the vaccine in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary said: "We'll be looking very carefully at those professions that will need to be prioritised in phase two of the prioritisation programme.

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“We'll look at, of course, teachers and police and others, but also we will look at shop workers and we will make those decisions based on the data."

Mr Hancock also revealed that a quarter of care home residents have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

It came as Labour shadow health minister Liz Kendall said there are "worrying signs" the Government risks losing control of the virus in care homes

She told the Commons: "Infection rates in care homes have tripled in a month. Homes are reporting staff absence of up to 40 per cent and the latest weekly care homes deaths are the highest since May.

"Can the Secretary of State set out what immediate extra support he will provide so the sector can cope?"

Mr Hancock replied: "It's incredibly important that vaccinations are offered to everybody in care homes and the NHS is working very hard to deliver on that with their colleagues in social care."

The Health Secretary said the total number of people in the UK to have received their first dose now stands at more than 2.3 million.

Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for NHS staff to be vaccinated in the next two weeks.

Read more: Tesco to enforce mask wearing and lone shopping

He said: "Those still going to work are, of course, NHS staff - the British Medical Association say 46,000 of them are off sick with Covid.

"Can (Mr Hancock) go further and faster and ensure that NHS staff, frontline staff, receive the vaccination in the next two weeks and can he provide daily updates on the number of NHS staff who have been vaccinated?"

Mr Hancock replied: "It is very important that whilst the rollout of the vaccine is proceeding well, and we are on track to hit the targets that we have set, we must also stress to everybody the importance of following the rules which are in place in order to control this virus and reduce the pressures on the NHS, which are very considerable at this moment."

The Health Secretary also confirmed everyone in England will get access to a vaccine within 10 miles of where they live.

He said: “Everybody will be able to get a jab locally. We’re committed to ensure that across England there will be a local vaccination centre available within 10 miles of where everyone lives.”

He added that, for “over 95 per cent of people... this will be a fixed permanent site”, while “for some of the more rural parts... some of these will be mobile units”.

“If people get called to a mass vaccination centre and they feel it is too far for them to travel then they will be able to get a vaccine locally by one of the local GP services,” he said.