I was delighted to see Gloucestershire ahead of the rest for its vaccine roll out, which calls for an unequivocal big thank you to all the surgeries, vaccine centres, volunteers, firefighters and many others who made it possible.
But could we do even better? Why not a plan to ensure even the smallest amount of surplus vaccine goes to our frontline police officers, support staff or other key workers. A national protocol to take the place of local arrangements which are proving invaluable in other parts of the country?
This week I listened to the Chair of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals declare that often five vials of their vaccine is sufficient vaccine for six people; I also learnt that in Nottinghamshire over 600 front line officers were inoculated in this way and in Warwickshire too, though I’m not aware of any in Gloucestershire.
“Front line police officers are among the highest risk professions”
I’ve been calling for a plan stipulating that when excess vaccine becomes available, which cannot be directed to those in the highest risk groups, the police control room is contacted and officers are directed to the surgery or vaccine centre. Just a few a day would make a real difference and be a huge boost to morale
It was believed initially that little excess vaccine was available, however local media coverage has prompted several calls to my office to suggest otherwise. Distribution of the excess, though well intentioned, may have been random and that’s why I’ve raised this locally and nationally with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and the Chair of the National Police Chiefs (NPCC) Council Martin Hewitt who has now joined me in calling for a nationwide policy.
I can empathise with those who must to decide the order in which we receive this vaccine – so difficult with so many competing demands. But once the highest priority groups are all protected a decision must be made about prioritising key workers over other risk groups. I don’t have access to the data on which those decisions are made, but I think it’s only fair that key workers like the police, essential retail and others are considered as part of that process.
Unpopular though their role might be to some, front line police officers are among the highest risk professions. Some have died and many fallen ill so I make no apology for prioritising them and other key workers for any excess jabs.