Unions have called for key frontline workers to be given priority access to an approved Covid vaccine after they are removed from the list of those who should receive the vaccine first.
The unions, which represent more than 1.8 million employees, say that by prioritizing the elderly and health and social care workers, the distribution plan is failing to protect other key workers while increasing exposure risks.
Gil Qartail, Assistant Secretary General of AutismHe said: “It is absolutely correct for welfare workers and health workers to receive the vaccine at an early stage so that they are protected and not at risk of inadvertently transmitting the virus.
“ However, there are many other major workers who have suffered greatly during the pandemic and they must also receive appropriate priority in receiving the vaccine.
“What is absolutely necessary is that there is a clear and transparent list of priority groups and we do not see freedom for everyone or a queue jumping in for the wealthy.”
Analysis by the National Statistical Office (ONS) suggested that workers in England and Wales are more likely to die from Covid during the first wave of the pandemic including security guards, taxis, and Bus driverAutomobile technicians, mechanics, and retail workers. The Office for National Statistics said: “Many professions in these groups will continue to work during the epidemic and will not be able to work from home, which may increase the chances of contracting the virus.”
Greater exposure to major workers has also been linked to the disproportionate risk facing ethnic minorities from the coronavirus. The Institute for Financial Studies said A third of all British Africans of working age are in key jobs – 50% more than the proportion of the white British population.
Zubeida Haq, a member of the independent Sage Group (Emergencies Scientific Advisory Group) said: “One of the main reasons why BAME (blacks and ethnic minorities) communities are more vulnerable to infection and the severity of this disease is that we have a proportion of BAME people among the main workers. The main workers are drivers like drivers. Delivery, taxi drivers, public transport workers and professional cleaners as well Doctors and nurses. “
Certifying the need to prioritize key workers, Manuel Curtis, Secretary General of TSSA, referred to last week’s Covid outbreak at Manchester Piccadilly railway station, As a result, 11 employees were infected with the virus, and dozens returned to their homes.
“After the vulnerable and health and social care workers, other essential workers must be vaccinated before the general population,” he said. “As we saw with the outbreak in Manchester Piccadilly only last week, transport workers are at the front lines of a pandemic. They are essential to keeping the country moving and it should be given priority when it comes to vaccination.”
Paddy Lillis, General Secretary for Usdaw that represents store and distribution workers, agreed on the need to vaccinate the vulnerable first, but added: “We are also calling on the government to ensure that retail workers and delivery drivers are prioritized because the vaccine has been rolled into the general population. They deal with hundreds of customers every day. This should be taken into account when assessing their level of risk. “
Professor Wei Shin Lim, Chairman of the Covid-19 Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization, said: “The interim advice for JCVI is to prioritize seniors and health and social care workers in vaccination against Covid-19.
“This recommendation was made with the aim of preventing the largest possible number of deaths.”