Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Care minister tells LBC she does not support teachers being prioritised for Covid jab
1 February 2021, 08:41
Care minister Helen Whately told Nick Ferrari she does not support Keir Starmer's calls for teachers to be vaccinated as a priority.
Former PM Tony Blair has also publicly backed the Labour leader's urges for teachers' prioritisation in the jab queue as it would be "done in two days."
Mr Blair suggested educators should be vaccinated before most over-50s in order to get children back into classrooms.
Care minister Helen Whately told Nick she "absolutely wants to see children back at school", adding that the Government was reluctant to close schools and promised they will be the "first thing to open."
"I've spoken to teachers who want to be vaccinated, I totally understand that," she said, "as your listeners will know we are following the JCVI prioritisation of vaccinating first those who are most at risk at dying from the virus."
"That is the approach we're taking, to use the approach to save lives," she said.
Nick repeated his question: "Would you support the idea of moving teachers up the cohorts?"
Ms Whately said she "absolutely" wants to see teachers vaccinated "as and when we can."
She continued: "You have to think: who are you going to delay the vaccination from in order to move somebody up the list? That's a really really difficult question you would have to think about, given that at the moment the order that we're following...is based on the order in which is set out to save the most lives."
The Government plans to vaccinate the four highest priority groups on the JCVI's list by 22 February, the date which schools were originally supposed to be reopened.
The Prime Minister has since announced that he hopes to reopen schools on Monday 8 March.
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms. I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching.
“So I must inform the House that for the reasons I have outlined it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term. But I know how frustrating that will be for pupils and teachers who want nothing more than to get back to the classroom.
“And for parents and for carers who spent so many months juggling their day jobs, not only with home schooling but meeting the myriad other demands of their children from breakfast until bedtime.”