Refusal to give officers covid jab priority is a ‘kick in the teeth’ says police boss
A police boss has responded after the “extremely disappointing news” that frontline officers won’t be given priority for Covid jabs.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones spoke out after it was revealed that people aged 40 to 49 will be the next group to receive the vaccine.
There has been sustained pressure for police officers and teachers to be given prioity access to vaccines because of the amount of face to face contact they have as part of their job.
But scientific advisors, the JCVI, whose recommendations have been used by the Welsh Government have ruled against giving priority to police officers and teachers in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
The refusal to give police officers priority was condemned by Mr Jones who said: “Police officers deserve better treatment than this because they are among the heroes of this pandemic.
“The recommendation that they, along with teachers, should not be given priority is a real kick in the teeth when they potentially they put their lives on the line every time they go out on duty.
“The Covid pandemic has added another layer of risk to an already dangerous job, especially when new and more contagious variants of the virus are spreading the disease.
“Unbelievably, police officers have had to deal with the additional threat from a small minority of offenders spitting or coughing in their faces, saying they are infected with coronavirus.
“As a matter of urgency, am calling on the Welsh Government to put this right by including police officers among those given priority to receive a jab so they can continue to protect our communities across North Wales during the pandemic.”
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.
“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.”
But North Wales Police Federation general secretary Mark Jones said: “We represent over 1,500 brave, hard working and dedicated police officers in North Wales.
“Throughout this period since Covid-19 gripped our communities, the vast majority of police officers have had no option but to continue working.
“Sadly, in North Wales, we have seen many colleagues who have become unwell with Covid-19 and many more having to self-isolate.
“Many of my members have passionately described their fears in bringing Covid-19 back to their family homes and thus putting their loved ones at significant risk of contracting this deadly virus.”