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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S5W-35235
Asked by: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 16 February 2021

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what consideration it has given to prioritising COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers in the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) priority groups 5 to 9, and whether it has held discussions with the JCVI regarding this.

Current status: Answered by Mairi Gougeon on 24 March 2021


Answer

The Scottish Government follows the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Guidance in the planning of vaccine delivery. This evidence based guidance advises that the single greatest risk of mortality from COVID-19 is increasing age, and that the risk increases exponentially with age. Additionally the committee considers frontline health and social care workers who provide direct care to vulnerable people a high priority for vaccination.

The JCVI priority lists represents 90% of the preventable mortality from COVID-19 in Scotland and throughout the delivery of the vaccination programme we will be guided by the clinical expertise of the JCVI, the MHRA, and our own senior clinical advisers.

The JCVI list now includes staff directly involved in the direct care of children and young people with the most complex additional healthcare needs who are clinically vulnerable to severe effects of COVID. They may be at higher risk of exposure due to their close contact with those providing health and social care support, particularly those with severe neuro-disabilities. They will be eligible under category 2 of the JCVI list. This includes staff working in special schools and units, and in some cases in mainstream schools. Staff supporting these children will undertake roles which will align to the multi-agency educational and care plans for these children who are the most clinically vulnerable.

We recognise the important role teachers and educational workers play, particularly during the pandemic, and want to get vaccines to everyone as quickly as we can.

To save lives it is essential that vaccinations are given to the first priority groups as set by the JCVI, these being residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, people over the age of 80, and frontline health and social care workers.

Prioritisation by sector in not being considered for the following reasons;

  • Criticality of service is not an indication for priority vaccination because clinical risk is the overriding concern. This is influenced most greatly by age, not occupation.
  • Currently there is no sectoral prioritisation of any workers other than frontline health and social care workers. This is because we don’t know if the vaccine prevents spread, but it does reduce the harm to those most at risk should they catch the virus.
  • Individual members of the teaching profession will be called forward for vaccination according to their position on the priority list, if they are eligible within the JCVI Cohorts regarding their age and/or underlying medical conditions (e.g. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality).

Our plans will remain flexible and we will continue to adjust these based on the guidance provided by JCVI.