Coronavirus in Portsmouth: Spare Pfizer jabs set for police and firefighters in Hampshire under 'reserve list' system

EMERGENCY services personnel are set to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in a bid to stop unused doses going to waste.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:04 pm

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum has drawn up a zero waste policy, giving vaccination teams reserve lists so they can call people if there are spare jabs.

Unvaccinated care home residents, frontline health and social workers, the over-80s, the over-75s and other at-risk groups would be first on the list.

This would be in line with priority groups drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

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People being vaccinated at Emsworth Baptist Church, Emsworth on 19 January 2021. Pictured: Dorothy Palmer getting her vaccine by Dr Caroline Kenedy-Cooke. Picture: Habibur Rahman

But the resilience forum has confirmed that category one core responders listed under the Civil Contingencies Act – including police, firefighters, coastguard, and council workers – will be called if they are already working to support the NHS.

This includes core responders on the frontline workers who are ‘likely’ to come into contact with many vulnerable people.

The Pfizer vaccine has a short shelf-life once defrosted and that is why the two reserve lists have been drawn up.

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It comes after Hampshire Police Federation called for police officers to be prioritised for the vaccine.

But Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, is concerned teachers have not been put on the reserve list.

In a letter to the forum’s chairman, chief fire officer Neil Odin, he said: ‘I am very disappointed that the LRF's vaccine zero waste policy has not been developed, or interpreted, in such a way as to allow the early vaccination of front line school based staff such as teachers and learning support assistants.

‘Whilst it has been suggested to me that this stems from central government's position on this, reinforced by the JVCI, I understand that teachers in neighbouring areas are being included within the zero waste policy and I find the position adopted across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight inequitable and unjustifiable.

‘At the moment we have only been able to put forward for vaccination staff from special schools who are dealing with our most vulnerable youngsters and not our wider schools based workforce.

‘Our front line school based staff are already performing a vital role in terms of the education of our critical workers, including the children of NHS staff and the “blue light” workforce.

‘National data shows that male secondary school teachers have an increased risk (2.5 times) of Covid death compared to other similar professionals.

‘Also every time a member of staff has to self-isolate or take time off sick this puts considerable pressure on the school and impacts on the education that they are able to provide.

‘We should be doing all we can to support our teaching and education staff.

However, an LRF spokesman said the group, made up of public authorities in Hampshire, was ‘awaiting government guidance’.

‘The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum’s zero waste policy is strictly aligned with the cohorts set out from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination,' he said.

‘The policy has been designed to ensure we minimise the potential of waste of the Pfizer vaccine by using a reserve list of key workers across Hampshire and Isle of Wight that are part of health and social care staff and systems to fill any last minute slots.

‘We are awaiting central government guidance about the vaccination of teachers and will continue to raise this very important issue nationally to get clarity as soon as possible.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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