Vaccines Minister 'asking the question' over prioritising Covid jabs for frontline workers

15 February 2021, 21:00 | Updated: 15 February 2021, 22:29

By Kate Buck

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi has told LBC he is 'asking the question' over whether frontline workers should get priority for a vaccine as phase 2 is set to begin.

Mr Zahawi took your calls on LBC the day after it was confirmed the Government hit its target of 15 million jabs put into people's arms.

The oldest and most clinically vulnerable in our society have now either received or been offered a vaccine, meaning the groups that represented 88% of Covid deaths have been protected.

Read more: Prison officers 'lambs to slaughter' as prison Covid infections quadruple

Read more: First jabs to everyone in the nine priority groups by March 30, LBC analysis finds

It also means a quarter of the UK adult population have now received at least one dose.

But current guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) hasn't listed those who are exposed to people from other households as part of their jobs for priority access.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi spoke to LBC's Iain Dale
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi spoke to LBC's Iain Dale. Picture: LBC

This includes police officers, supermarket workers, teachers and prison officers - many of whom are exposed to the deadly virus on a daily basis.

But Alan from Fulham asked Mr Zahawi why police officers weren't being prioritised - and pointed out the 120,000 officers across the UK wouldn't even total a full day's vaccination capability.

Mr Zahawi responded: "We are asking the question in phase two on whether we should prioritise - whether it's prison officers, whether it's police officers, shop workers, teachers."

He added: "It makes me feel like I want to go even faster to get more vaccines into the system we've built and the deployment infrastructure, the hubs the primary care networks, and of course the GPs who are doing an amazing job.

"The faster I can get jabs in people arms and protect them, the better it is for everyone, for the whole nation."

Reacting to the news of hitting the target on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had "achieved an extraordinary feat" and heralded it as a "significant milestone".

Meanwhile, an emotional Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the moment as "fantastic news".

"The vaccine is our route to freedom - we will beat this virus jab by jab," he added, revealing one in four adults have now received their first dose.

Read more: Clinically vulnerable and over-65s offered Covid jab from Monday

The 15 million target was reached two days earlier than expected, just over two months after Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a trial on 8 December.