“Reports of police officers receiving ‘spare’ Covid-19 vaccines demonstrates how chaotic the government’s strategy continues to be”, says Labour’s candidate for Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Alison Hume.
“It’s devastating to hear that a number of police officers have died from Covid-19,” said Ms Hume, the PFCC candidate for North Yorkshire. “It’s now absolutely essential that our blue light workers are treated with the respect they deserve.”
“Whilst it’s right that vulnerable people are top of the vaccination priority list, we have to question why first responders don’t fall into that category. Surely anyone at high risk of exposure is therefore vulnerable? Across the county there are reports of police officers receiving ‘left over’ vaccinations giving the impression they are an ‘after thought’ rather than a priority.”
Last week Ms Hume called on the Government to prioritise the vaccination of all first responders after two police forces revealed their officers had been infected after being spat at.
The Police Federation say some forces are reporting that up to 15 per cent of their officers are off sick or self-isolating. The Fire Brigades Union reports that 3,000 fire service staff are currently in self-isolation.
“As I said last week, we must protect our protectors,” asserted Ms Hume. “I’m pleased that since then the matter has been raised in Parliament and the government says it will consider moving our emergency workers up the priority list – but there are still no firm guarantees and in the meantime our services continue to be under enormous strain.
“The Home Secretary Priti Patel last night announced new fines for people who are refusing to follow the lockdown rules. If we’re expecting our officers to break up parties and gatherings, they must do so having first been protected from infection. Without our first responders our future is much more uncertain.”
Ms Hume is calling on the government to include first responders in the second wave of the vaccination programme. “To put their minds at rest and the understandable fear their families feel every time their loved one goes to work, it’s critical the government announces in the next few days the plan to protect those people who risk their lives every day to protect us. Out of a population of 59 million in England and Wales there are 130,000 police officers – surely its not beyond the government’s ability to ensure their safety in the same way they ensure ours?”