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Vaccinations for special education staff discussed at COVID meeting

Vaccinations for staff at special education schools was discussed at a Royal Borough COVID outbreak and engagement board this week.

Kevin McDaniel, director of children’s services, said that if pupils have ‘high vulnerability to significant illness and death’ from the virus, then staff at these establishments should be protected.

But he added at Monday’s meeting that this is not the case for ‘every special school’ and that if health is not at further risk, then staff will not be given the jab at this stage.

“I am really clear that those staff and those schools should be at the front of the education queue when that situation changes nationally,” Mr McDaniel said, adding that himself and Cllr Stuart Carroll, the lead member for health, would be keeping a ‘close eye’ on developments.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Carroll said that the vaccination programme was an NHS-led process, and that the health service is following strict policies from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The JCVI assists the NHS in determining which groups should be administered the vaccine and in what order.

Cllr Carroll said that ‘in some circumstances’, frontline social care staff could be deemed eligible for a vaccine if they work with clinically vulnerable pupils.

The JCVI’s definition of such conditions includes cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and kidney disease.

The health lead added he is open to discussing this with schools which are concerned about staff vaccinations, in order to ensure ‘the spirit of the guidance is being totally honoured’.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are grateful for the tireless efforts of all our key workers at this difficult time. They are keeping us safe and ensuring that vital services carry on.

“The Government is following the independent advice of the JCVI for which groups of people should receive the vaccines first – with the immediate priority being preventing deaths and protecting health and care staff.

“Very few children have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable to this virus, however individuals who closely and regularly work with clinically extremely vulnerable children may be appropriate to prioritise for vaccination in line with social care workers.”

Also discussed at the meeting was the overall vaccination programme in the Royal Borough, with members hearing there had been 'good levels of uptake' for the life-saving jab. 

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