Special school staff in Tameside have received the Covid vaccine to prevent leftovers going to waste.
With the Pfizer vaccine having such a short ‘life’, the borough has key workers it can call on at short notice to prevent any being wasted.
Among those are 150 staff from Cromwell High and Oakdale School, both in Dukinfield, who have now benefited from the vaccine.
With growing concerns over special schools and nurseries remaining fully open during lockdown, unlike schools which are restricted to vulnerable and key worker children, the move has been welcomed by a teachers’ union.
Jac Casson, of Greater Manchester’s national executive members for NASUWT, said: “We welcome the news that Tameside Council has prioritised special school staff for vaccination and ask that this action be replicated across the GM authorities.
“As the teachers’ union we are also gravely concerned that special schools and nurseries have been directed to remain fully open. It is not just the health and safety of our members that we fear for, but all of our communities.
“The purpose of the third national lockdown is to severely restrict the number of contacts people have. There has yet to be any scientific evidence published by the government that explains why it is safe for these parts of the sector to be open when it is not safe to open mainstream schools and colleges.
“Nurseries and special schools, by the nature of the children and young people they care for, find operating with two metre social distancing practically impossible, it is often inappropriate for the children to wear face coverings too.
“Often children are transported to and from special schools in groups on mini buses and taxis.
“All of this puts not only our members at risk from a potentially lethal infection, but also the children and their families.
“The NASUWT has requested where possible pupil and childcare places are limited, that the staff should be provided with medical grade, quality PPE as a matter of course and that all other measures are taken to mitigate against the spread of the virus.”
Tameside Council said that remaining staff at both schools are on standby lists for the vaccine, as well as teaching and school care staff at its other special schools.
They will be called on if others in the current 1-4 priority groups are unavailable at short notice.
- Priority 1 – Care home residents and staff / people aged 80+
- Priority 2 – Healthcare and social workers
- Priority 3 – People aged 75 to 79
- Priority 4 – People aged 70 to 74 and high risk people under 65
A spokesperson for Tameside and Glossop NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have had fantastic take up of the Covid vaccine in Tameside and Glossop with around 13,000 doses administered so far.
“Eagerness for residents to receive the vaccine and the phenomenal work of staff to set up and deliver the vaccine programme locally will certainly save many local lives and help relieve pressures on our healthcare system.
“We absolutely want to ensure optimal utilisation of the Covid vaccinations and so if doses of this precious resource are left over at the end of a planned schedule of vaccination appointments, our Primary Care Network hubs are working with their practices to ensure these are filled by working equitably through the JCVI priority cohorts.
“Given the current pressure of the Pfizer vaccine having a short ‘life’ we also need to make agile and pragmatic decisions to bring in eligible health and social care workers and wider key workers who can be called at short notice to help support this further.”
She added: “So far with such good take up of the vaccine appointments we have only found limited need to bring people in at short notice to take up any remaining vaccines – an example being some of our special school teachers we were able to bring in and protect so that they can continue to deliver education to some of our vulnerable children in the borough.
“We will continue with this model while having a structured base for short and medium term decision making on stand-by individuals as the programme evolves and more of the AZ/Oxford vaccine is delivered.”
Earlier this week Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that all teachers and school staff will be ‘top priority’ for the vaccine in the next wave.
He said that it’s ‘understandably right’ to vaccinate those most at risk of being hospitalised in the first round. But he insisted teachers will not be far down the list.