Call to put 1,000 teachers on virus jab priority list

More than 1,000 teachers in South Tyneside could jump up the priority list for the coronavirus vaccine if the Government acts on union calls.

Teacher virus jab call
Teacher virus jab call

By the time schools re-open - mid-February at least – Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that the top four priority groups – care home residents and staff, frontline health and care workers, vulnerable individuals, and everyone over 70 – should have received their injections.

Teachers and other school staff are not currently prioritised in the vaccine programme – but unions claim they should be.

The School Workforce Census shows 1,084 teachers in South Tyneside were aged below 50 in 2019 – 82% of the 1,326 teachers whose age was listed in the census, with the largest proportion (35%) in the 30 to 39 age group.

Putting school staff on the priority list would see more than 400,000 teachers bumped up the queue nationally, the figures suggest.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders' union, said the school workforce should also be prioritised to "help facilitate a speedy return to face-to-face education".

The NAHT, National Education Union (NEU), NASUWT teachers’ union, GMB, Unison and Unite have warned that bringing pupils back had risked fuelling the pandemic further by exposing teachers to the risk of COVID.

Mr Whiteman said: “No time should be wasted in preparing for an orderly and sustainable return.”

A national petition calling for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised for the jab had attracted more than 270,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.