Teachers, bus drivers and police officers could be prioritised for a coronavirus vaccine once the highest risk groups have been jabbed, according to official guidance.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its vaccine priority list today, with care homes and the NHS the first in line.
Elderly people and patients underlying health conditions then take priority, with the JCVI explaining its list targets Brits with the highest chance of dying from Covid-19.
But the body has encouraged the Government to prioritise people based on their job types once all over-50s have been immunised.
It said public facing jobs in which people have to interact with strangers on a regular basis, though this will be an ‘issue of policy’ rather than one for it to advise on.
‘Vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 due to their occupation could also be a priority in the next phase,’ the guidance says.
‘This could include first responders, the military, those involved in the justice system, teachers, transport workers, and public servants essential to the 10 pandemic response.
‘Priority occupations for vaccination are considered an issue of policy, rather than for JCVI to advise on. JCVI asks that the Department of Health and Social Care consider occupational vaccination in collaboration with other Government departments.’
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine has been shown to block 95 per cent of Covid-19 infections in late-stage trials, with equal efficacy among younger volunteers and those over 65 who are most at risk from Covid.
The breakthrough jab sealed approval from the UK’s medical regulator this morning, making Britain the first country in the world to have a clinically authorised Covid-19 vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its vaccine priority list today, with care homes and the NHS among the first in line
Professor Wei Shen Lim warned they could not guarantee care homes would get the vaccine before anyone else, admitting ‘whether or not that is actually doable depends on deployment and implementation’
The JCVI guidance states that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ‘appears to be safe and well-tolerated and there were no clinically concerning safety observations’.
The document sets out why officials have come to the conclusions they have for the priority list.
It also states that the JVCI has taken a ‘precautionary’ approach in advising that pregnant women should not get the vaccine because there is ‘no data as yet on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy’.
UK REGULATOR INSISTS ‘NO CORNERS WERE CUT’ IN APPROVING THE VACCINE
Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) moved with unprecedented speed to approve the jab within just a week of receiving the final data from Pfizer’s phase three trials. The watchdog had been conducting a ‘rolling review’ of the vaccine, scrutinising data from its studies in real-time.
MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine insisted that despite the rapid approval, the vaccine had been assessed with ‘with meticulous care’.
She told the Downing Street press conference: ‘That doesn’t mean that any corners have been cut, none at all.’
Dr Raine said experts had worked ’round the clock, carefully, methodically poring over tables and analyses and graphs on every single piece of data’.
More than 1,000 pages of data had been examined, she said.
She said: ‘The way of working in a rolling review ensures that our teams of clinicians and scientists are working in parallel to complete all of the work according to strict guidelines on safety, effectiveness and quality.’
The vaccine had ‘only been approved because those strict tests have been done and complied with’.
Dr Raine said: ‘If you are climbing a mountain, you prepare and prepare. We started that in June.
‘By the time the interim results became available on November 10 we were at base camp and then when we got the final analysis we were ready for that last sprint that takes us to today.
‘That is the exemplary nature of the work that has been done and the public deserve nothing less.’
The guidance adds: ‘Women should be advised not to come forward for vaccination if they may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy within three months of the first dose.’
Meanwhile only very specific high-risk children should be offered the vaccine, the document adds. ‘Following infection, almost all children will have asymptomatic infection or mild disease,’ it said.
‘There are very limited data on vaccination in adolescents, with no data on vaccination in younger children, at this time.
‘The Committee advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination.’
The JCVI’s chair for Covid-19 immunisation told a Downing Street briefing that the phase one of the vaccination programme would protect those most at risk as well as health and social care workers.
Professor Wei Shen Lim told a Number 10 briefing that from then on the programme would see a banding system, whereby those in the oldest age groups are vaccinated first.
He said he hoped that in the first phase of the vaccine programme 99 per cent of the most clinically vulnerable would be covered.
He said: ‘Prioritisation was based on the risk of dying from Covid-19 and, in order to protect the most vulnerable, we have prioritised the most vulnerable individuals first.
‘The other element is protection of the NHS and the health and social care system, because by protecting the NHS we also protect lives.’
It comes amid a row about who will get their hands on the first doses of the jab. The JCVI says it should be care homes residents and the staff who look after them.
Professor Wei Shen Lim warned they could not guarantee care homes would get the vaccine before anyone else, admitting ‘whether or not that is actually doable depends on deployment and implementation’.
The respiratory doctor told the briefing: ‘The JCVI advice is aimed at maximising benefit from vaccines and therefore it’s aimed at the most vulnerable people – which are people in care homes.
‘Whether or not the vaccine itself can be delivered to care homes is obviously an important point, and there will be some flexibility in terms of operational constraints.
‘The JCVI’s advice is that every effort should be made to supply vaccines and offer vaccinations to care home residents, whether or not that is actually doable is dependent on deployment and implementation.’
He added: ‘The whole reason why a priority listing is required is because we expect, during a pandemic, that vaccine supply will be limited in the first instance.’