Police officers are facing coronavirus being used as a “weapon on the streets” and should therefore be vaccinated as a priority, Humberside’s Police and Crime Commissioner has said.
Keith Hunter said front line officers had been particularly at risk throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with some facing disgusting acts of spitting while arresting suspects.
Mr Hunter said new variants becoming more prevalent across communities could also increase the potential for transmission between officers and other members of staff too.
Ultimately, this could lead to the vital work police do to keep the public safe being jeopardised, he said.
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Earlier this week, it was suggested that once the over 50s have been vaccinated by March or April, the next group could be decided based partly on ethnicity – but not their jobs.
While Mr Hunter conceded he was “no expert” in arguing which groups should receive the vaccine at which stage, he said police officers should have some priority because of their work.
He said: “A number of Police and Crime Commissioners, including myself, have joined with the Police Federation, the police staff unions and police chiefs to ask for prioritisation of police officers and staff in getting the vaccination.
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“I will not say at which level they should be prioritised because I’m no expert in that area but that they shouldn’t have to wait based upon age or underlying health issues.
“This isn’t about special privileges, it is because front line officers and staff face a weaponising of the virus on the streets and also because, especially with the more transmissible variations, there is a risk that the virus could spread amongst officers and staff to the point where vital services keeping the public safe are put at risk.
“It is a safety issue both for the officers and the wider public.”
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Ministers have not yet set out how the vaccine will be divvied out among the remaining population.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said early data on vaccines’ effect on transmission is “really encouraging” but more evidence is being awaited.
He said “tens of millions” of coronavirus vaccine doses will be coming in March and April.
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He told BBC Breakfast: “Supplies are coming online, we have to reserve second doses so that is an additional requirement at the moment where supply is finite.
“But I see much greater volume in March and April, tens of millions of doses coming through and I’m confident that we’ll hit our target (by the end of April).”
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