Should Hampshire teachers be prioritised for Covid vaccinations? – here’s what our readers think
SCHOOLS and children’s education has been at the forefront of the Covid debate throughout the pandemic – non more so this week as a dispute erupted between the government and councils who had asked headteachers to close schools a week early due to rising levels of Covid transmissions.
It’s a dispute which led to the threat of legal action from the secretary of state for education, Gavin Williamson.
Swanmore College and Purbrook Park School were recently instructed by Hampshire County Council to reverse the decision of headteachers to offer parents and pupils the option of online lessons for the last week of term to curb the potential risk of infection leading into the Christmas break.
With the government’s stance that schools should remain open, even in the midst of the most recent lockdown, there have been calls from the region’s headteachers and educationalists for school staff to be considered for priority status for vaccinations to both protect teachers and ensure schools remain at operable staffing levels.
It’s fair to say this has sparked a mixed reaction amongst our readers. Here is a flavour of what people posted on social media.
NHS and vulnerable must come first
While headteachers stressed they should not be prioritised at the expense of NHS staff or the most vulnerable a number of posters were keen to emphasise this point.
Richard Price: ‘Everybody will want the vaccine and most will have valid points. Unfortunately you can only vaccinate so many at one time. There has to be a system. The 80s may not be necessary to keep things open but this should be about keeping people alive as well surely. I don't agree with leaving the elderly to just die. This is still someone's mum, nan, dad, granfather etc.’
Mark Russell: ‘Simple answer is no. Elderly, care workers and NHS staff - government have got it spot on.’
However Natasha Davis pointed out: ‘The article doesn’t say that teachers want it first and before the groups already identified.’
Mark Russell: ‘Teachers are no different from supermarket workers making sure there is food on our plates when over a hundred shoppers are piling around the shop. What about the vulnerable people they live with? Do you hear them moaning? No.
‘Or the self employed men and women having to risk getting Covid and passing it on to their vulnerable family members because if they don't work they don't earn.’
Michael Sceal: ‘No. NHS first, then service personnel and then emergency services.’
Joe Randell: ‘Are they doing it because they care about the kids or because of an income? I think teachers are on their high horse over all this.’
Dennis Tickner: ‘Not sure what this is about. An independent body has already set up the rota of the procedure for vaccinations. Keep safe and we will be notified when it’s our turn. Never will please everyone.’
Arguments in favour
Darcie Chantelle: ‘What about those teachers that live with vulnerable people? But they still go to work risking their lives because they care about educating children. What about teachers that have underlying health conditions but still go to work because they care? What about teachers who also have families but still risk their lives because they care about educating your children.’
Cheryl Jackson: ‘Teachers and other school staff have worked all through this pandemic so yes they do deserve to be treated like NHS and care staff.’
Diane Urquhart: ‘If the government have stated to keep schools open as a high priority then yes.’
Guylaine Uguen: ‘Obviously not before the elderly and vulnerable or NHS staff but If you want to keep schools open so kids can learn and parents can go to work then yes.’
Crissie Barnes: ‘They should not be given priority above those already in the first phase but should be top in the second phase along with other necessary groups such as food providers.’
Nicky Whitecross: ‘Yes - the highest infection rate in the country is among secondary school pupils. Give teachers some credit.’
Gemma Williams: ‘Teachers have been a backbone through this pandemic course they deserve it.’