It’s “incredible” that front-line police officers have not been given a level of priority by the Government for the Covid-19 vaccine, the Metropolitan Police Federation had said.
Chairman Ken Marsh said police officers are in the middle of keeping people safe from Covid-19 – at no small degree of risk to themselves and their families – and yet amazingly they are not in the queue for the vaccine.
Whilst “frontline health and social care workers” are second in the Government’s published priority list for the vaccine roll-out, police officers do not feature at all on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Ken’ concerns were heightened this weekend after the Government changed London to the new “Tier 4”, which it fears could cause more confrontation with a frustrated public as we approach Christmas.
“We have heard no mention of police officers being on the list to be vaccinated as soon as possible. There’s been no discussion whatsoever around my colleagues. It’s incredible, and sadly shows what they think of us,” said Ken.
“How well has this been thought out? We are your protectors. We are out there on the front line. We could be super spreaders because our officers travel and provide mutual aid across the country. It’s like we don’t exist. It’s amazing.
“We have seen just this past weekend with protests still being allowed – and our with day-to-day policing business – officers continue to come into close contact with people who could be carrying coronavirus.
“There’s no working from home for the majority of our colleagues.”
According to the Government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation “does not advise further prioritisation by occupation during the first phase of the [Vaccination] programme.”
It adds: “Occupational prioritisation could form part of a second phase of the programme, which would include healthy individuals from 16 years of age up to 50 years of age, subject to consideration of the latest data on vaccine safety and effectiveness.”
Ken added: “My brave colleagues are human beings. They have families, they have loved ones, they have partners. They go home to them the same as everyone else does.
“It beggars belief that you want us to be put into this position where we are out there on frontline keeping the public safe from Covid-19 and yet we are not even in the consideration to provided the protection from the varying vaccines.
“We also have to bear in mind that the thin blue line is getting thinner and thinner. We have more officers off now than we’ve had throughout this pandemic, from Covid and from isolation.
“Latest data shows some 600 officers are either currently off sick with Covid-19 or needing to isolate – these numbers are going up rapidly now to the point that I fear that if this continues, we will not be able to provide the service to the public that they expect.
“We must be given a level of priority when the Covid-19 vaccine is more widely rolled out.”