Final push for vaccinations petition
A petition calling for teachers and early years workers to be considered a priority alongside teachers for vaccinations now has over 455,000 signatures and will be debated by MPs.
The petition is due to be debated in Parliament this evening following the huge response, only 100,000 signatures are required for a petition to be considered for debate.
This shows the level of support for protecting early years workers as part of the country’s frontline response to Covid-19.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has identified the priority groups for Phase 1 of vaccination, which includes the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and frontline health and social care workers. Some early years workers are likely to be covered by the groups involving the clinically extremely vulnerable and “all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality”.
In Phase 2 the JCVI states that, “Vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 due to their occupation could also be a priority in the next phase.” Their suggested list includes teachers and NDNA believes that early years workers should be a high priority based on two key factors.
The early years sector is currently open to all children – meaning staff are coming into contact with similar numbers of children as they were prior to the latest national lockdown
It is impossible to socially distance from babies and young children, who need close personal care as well as contact and affection to support their development
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “As the petition signatories total almost half a million, NDNA is supporting this push to make childcare workers a priority for the vaccine.
“The Government is asking early years providers to go above and beyond in this lockdown and we know there is a great amount of determination among nurseries to support children and families at this challenging time.
“The current funding arrangements are insufficient for the majority of providers. With the attendance at settings reduced in this lockdown and higher costs from safer operating during the pandemic, the Government should reverse the funding decision for this term and support providers who are losing parental income.
“For months we have been calling for better access to testing for early years staff, and with schools now closed to the majority of pupils, these settings have to be a priority. We all know it’s impossible to distance from toddlers and babies who need close care and contact.
“Therefore early years staff must also be a priority for the vaccine to enable them to continue on the frontline providing support for our youngest children and their families.”
Sign the petition here
The debate can be watched live at 6pm today here