Julia Hartley-Brewer clashes with guest over vaccinating teachers
School closures have ignited the debate on whether teachers should be added to the priority list for coronavirus vaccinations to ensure students can head back to class quickly. Amanda Martin suggested that teachers should be vaccinated along with frontline workers such as NHS staff despite Boris Johnson previously insisting the risk to teachers is no greater than to anyone else. Speaking on her talkRADIO show, presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer asked the former president of the National Education Union: “Where do you think the teachers should come on the list even though they’re under no greater risk which we know?
Ms Martin said: “Some of our education workers are in that age group.”
The presenter interjected: “You’re not talking about that age group.
“You’re talking about a perfectly healthy young teacher getting the vaccine ahead of my 70-year-old dad. Where do you want teachers to jump the queue?”
Ms Martin replied: “I think education workers need to be in the key workers’ bracket so where they are key workers, there needs to be a roll out.”
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Ms Hartley Brewer said: “That’s in the second group, all those 80 years and over and frontline health and social workers.
“People who are 75 years old and at much higher risk of dying from this virus if they contract it, they should wait behind a healthy 25-year-old teacher? Really.
“That is so immoral. I’m genuinely shocked by that.”
Ms Martin added: “I think the immorality is the fact the Government have put us in this position; to do our jobs in what is an unsafe environment.”
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The row erupted after Nicola Sturgeon suggested coronavirus vaccines for teachers could be fast-tracked although she stressed it would be unethical not to prioritise those most at risk of dying from Covid-19.
Scotland’s First Minister said the Government would look at how to “accelerate” the vaccination of teachers and school staff as part of efforts to safely reopen schools.
But over-50s and those with pre-existing conditions should be prioritised, Ms Sturgeon insisted.
Schools will remain closed for the majority of pupils until at least the start of February across Scotland and England, with in-person teaching replaced by online learning.
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Children who are most vulnerable and whose parents are classed as key workers will still be able to attend schools.
Ms Sturgeon said she wants school staff “vaccinated as quickly as possible”, but not at the expense of those deemed clinically most at risk from the virus.
Announcing a new lockdown to the Scottish Parliament, she said: “We are considering whether and to what extent – consistent with our overall duty to vaccinate the most vulnerable first in line with JCVI recommendations – we can achieve vaccination of school and childcare staff as a priority”.
Asked by Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie about the potential for teachers to be vaccinated before the Scottish Government reviews its school closure policy, she added: “(Vaccinating) teachers and school staff would allow us to give that greater assurance to teachers in the determination to get schools open.
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