UK to prioritise vaccines by age, not job

Alistair SmoutAAP
All those aged between 40-49 will be next in line for the coronavirus vaccine in the UK.
Camera IconAll those aged between 40-49 will be next in line for the coronavirus vaccine in the UK.

Police and teachers will not jump to the head of the queue in the second phase of the UK's COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, with people instead prioritised by age, officials advising the government say, describing this as the best way to keep up the pace of immunisations.

The country's vaccine program has been among the fastest in the world, meeting a government target to offer a first dose of vaccination to 15 million high-risk people by mid-February.

Some frontline workers such as police and teachers had been calling for prioritisation on the basis of their jobs but Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chairman for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said such an approach could complicate the roll-out.

"Following an age-based program will be simple, and simplicity has been one of the cornerstones of the current program in terms of speed and its success," he told a news conference.

The UK aims to complete the first phase of its vaccine roll-out by mid-April.

While the priority list for that phase was largely determined by age, with all over-50s set to be offered a vaccine, health and care workers and clinically vulnerable people have also been prioritised.

Announcing the prioritisation list for phase 2, Lim said all those aged between 40-49 would be next in line for the shot then those aged 30-39 followed by those aged 18-29.

The JCVI said that an age-based approach remained the most effective way of reducing death and hospitalisation from COVID-19, even in those under 50.

Giving shots by job would be logistically complex and could result in delays, it said.

The government said it would follow the recommended approach but not everyone welcomed the advice.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England & Wales, said it was "a contemptible betrayal of police officers".

"Their anger is palpable, this will not be forgotten."

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