Vaccinating Officers now would strengthen Public Compliance
Gary Thwaite, Chief Executive of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, has repeated his call for frontline key workers including police officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible as they are "on the frontline, coming into daily contact with the public and are at risk of super-spreading."
Adding his voice to the calls of other Police Federations, Gary said "What is not being appreciated is that officer contact with the public is not always fleeting but can mean extensive close-up engagement which greatly magnifies the risk of infection. At the moment there can be as much as ten percent of officers in a force unavailable for duty either through self-isolating or already ill with Covid."
"The Government should also acknowledge that our vital role in enforcement of the Covid restrictions means that it is in the public interest that we have as many officers on duty as possible. We are not asking for the same priority as health and care workers but would like to hear from Government precisely when the vaccination programme is going to come to the frontline officers.
There are welcome signs that the Government is beginning to listen. This week, the chief executive of NHS England said teachers, police officers and other frontline workers may be in line for Covid-19 vaccines from 15 February, several weeks earlier than planned.
Sir Simon Stevens said there was a "legitimate discussion" to be had on whether to switch priority to those more likely to transmit coronavirus from those more susceptible to serious infection.
Meanwhile Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said police officers will have to wait for a vaccine until care home residents and vulnerable people have had it. But she added that some police officers with underlying health problems would be in the first wave of vaccinations. This could be in May, she said.
"I think the Government and local authorities are doing a tremendous job vaccinating the first wave, but we need it clearly set up when the next phase is going to be. The Scottish Government has said that will be in May. I hope we can move faster than that."
Gary said that because the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) was a national force operating across Scotland, England and Wales, the different vaccination policies there might be a problem with consistency. "That's something we're keeping an eye on as we would like to have all our officers vaccinated at much the same time to protect our operational deployment options."