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Prisoners will NOT jump vaccine queue, Downing Street says

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Prisoners will NOT jump vaccine queue: Downing Street quashes rumour that inmates will get Covid jab ahead of other groups

  •  Prisoners will not be offered vaccine ahead of other groups, government said 
  • It was believed NHS health teams would be given flexibility to vaccinate inmates 
  • ‘That is obviously not the case and is not true,’ a No 10 spokesman said

Prisoners will not be offered a coronavirus vaccine ahead of other groups, Downing Street has insisted.

It was believed that local NHS health teams would be given the flexibility to go into jails and vaccinate inmates and staff – regardless of age.

This could happen if they thought it was more efficient to vaccinate entire prison populations stuck in confined spaces rather than make repeat visits.

 But No 10 has now said this will not happen – though one Whitehall source questioned whether it would be possible for ministers to prevent it. 

Prisoners will not be offered a coronavirus vaccine ahead of other groups, Downing Street has insisted (File image) 

‘The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) haven’t made a specific recommendation on prisons,’ the source said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted there was no question of prisoners receiving the jab before other groups in society.

‘That is obviously not the case and is not true,’ the spokesman said. ‘Prisoners won’t be prioritised for vaccines.

‘They are vaccinated at the same time as the general public in line with the JCVI prioritisation groups, no quicker than that.’

The government has faced calls to prioritise key workers such as teachers and police officers in the next phase of the rollout.

However, giving evidence to MPs on Wednesday, the deputy chairman of the JCVI, Professor Anthony Harnden, indicated officials were likely to continue the age-based approach, saying there was no evidence teachers were more at risk than other occupational groups.

‘I would say that one of the key reasons that this programme has been so successful is because it has been simple, it’s been deliverable, and it has been rolled out very quickly and people understand it,’ he told the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

The body representing police officers in London said Boris Johnson had shown contempt by not prioritising them for the vaccine.

‘It’s absolutely disgusting – they don’t give a damn about us,’ said Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation.

‘Police officers are catching and dying from Covid-19 because of their job and yet we are still not being given the protection the vaccine offers. It’s like we don’t exist.’

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