Hope for Portsmouth schools as staff are offered leftover Covid jabs
CITY headteachers have hailed the start of 'returning to normality' as school staff are now being offered leftover Covid vaccines.
From last week those working in Portsmouth schools have been added to the Hampshire local resilience forum's zero waste programme - that started providing jabs to firefighters and police in February.
Under the scheme schools are notified if there are any spare coronavirus vaccinations available after residents miss their appointments, and they are then given out the next day to those who respond first so they are not thrown away.
Some schools are reporting 'almost all' staff have had their first dose as a result of the scheme - with some older and more vulnerable staff already having had theirs.
Polly Honeychurch, headteacher of Cottage Grove Primary School in Southsea, said 90 per cent of her staff had now had their first dose.
'Certainly if we want to stick to our roadmap out of lockdown, getting school workers vaccinated is key,' she said.
'To know all my staff are getting tested twice a week and with the majority now vaccinated it feels as if we are closer to returning to normality.
'I hate to think that vaccines are going to waste and if they have to be used it's fantastic they are being offered to school staff.'
Headteacher of the Priory School in Southsea, Stewart Vaughan, added: 'Between Thursday and Saturday we had 65 members of staff vaccinated through this programme - I think we are pretty much there now in terms of staff having their first dose.
'We are extremely grateful for the fact we have been identified as priority.
'Speaking to schools in other areas of the country I think the vaccine offering has been variable. Certainly Portsmouth has moved swiftly on this.'
As reported, all over 50-year-olds in Portsmouth have now been offered at least one jab, with any who missed theirs urged to re-book.
The council's education boss, Councillor Suzy Horton, said the zero waste scheme was 'key' going forward.
'I think what's really critical about teachers, especially primary school teachers, is they were in environments with no PPE with children coming an and out,' she said.
'It's a way of protecting them and their families while moving forward.'
Conservative spokesman for education and teacher, Cllr Terry Norton, agreed. He said: 'Receiving the Covid vaccination is the best chance we have to prevent the spread of this awful virus. Vaccinating teachers and school support is the best way for us to ease concerns over the re-opening of schools.'
According to data released on March 25 by NHS England, 94.6 per cent of over 80s in Portsmouth have had at least their first jab and 69.6 per cent of 50 to 54-year-olds have had theirs.