The first phase of the Government vaccination programme is going really well and covers all the over 50s, front-line NHS, care staff and the medically vulnerable.  

Cheltenham Community Fire Station has proved to be the best at vaccinating throughout the country, with well over 91% of its over 80s done, and Gloucestershire is also the best county in the country.  Excellent news!  

But attention is now being focussed on who should be vaccinated in Phase 2, where age is no longer the significant factor.  

So, the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which determines the priorities, has much to consider, as over half our population will still need vaccination.  

Once Phase 1 is complete and the vaccinations have taken effect, 99% of deaths from people yet to be infected should be prevented. 

With the risk of serious illness and death significantly reduced, that vulnerability should no longer be the driver of who next gets the vaccine. 

I strongly believe that our front-line police should be next in line for protection, as they cannot work from home and their interactions with the public often have to be 'up close and personal', where it is impossible to wear restrictive PPE or follow normal social distancing rules.  

Furthermore, too many offenders spit and cough over police while they are being arrested, increasing the risk of infection.  

Assaults on emergency workers and police were the most common virus-related crimes prosecuted in the first 6 months of the pandemic, with 1,688 offences recorded nationally.   

Some senior police leaders say there is a real risk that staff absences could be as high as 30% as police get ill or are forced to self-isolate.  

That would have a major operational impact on our police and reduce their ability to enforce the national lockdown and subsequent Tier restrictions, which may be with us for some time.  

As a minimum, rest days would be cancelled and overtime would go up, reducing the long-term sustainability of our police and their ability to take on additional tasks, such as ambulance drivers, as paramedics become ill.   

If possible, the police should even be part of the later stages of Phase 1.

I know there is also a good case to vaccinate those Armed Forces assisting the NHS, our teachers, school and nursery staff, and our essential supermarket workers and other critical personnel in the vaccination supply chain.  

But I believe it is right to make our police a priority for vaccination and am sure the public would give their strong support.

 

Chris Nelson

Community Crime Fighter

(aka Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for Gloucestershire)

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