DR HILARY Jones says teachers can pass Covid-19 onto children, and so should be among the first to have the vaccine.
The GP waded into the debate over whether teachers should be prioritised to get the vaccine before the general public.
Dr Hilary Jones said teachers can pass Covid-19 onto children, and so should be among the first to have the vaccineCredit: ITV
While he said teachers were no more at risk of serious Covid consequences than other professions, they do have a role in the spread of the coronavirus.
Dr Hilary told Good Morning Britain: “Teachers as a professional group are no more vulnerable to the effects of Covid than any other professional group.
“That’s not to say they can still transmit the virus to the children in their care, they can.
“It’s apparent that those children, those few children who have been symptomatic with Covid-19, have almost all been infected from teachers.
“So the idea of vaccinating teachers to protect the children and stop them being vectors to carry the virus home to their parents and grandparents does carry merit.”
However, he said other groups such as the police are “probably more in line for priority” because their work makes it difficult to protect themselves from the virus.
“So it’s a difficult one”, Dr Hilary said.
“But schools do have a role in community transmission of the virus…. So we have to be really careful, we desperately want schools to reopen, but we have to do it safely.”
Schools will not reopen until March 8 at the earliest. Picutred: Pupils at Outwood Academy Adwick in Doncaster, September 2Credit: PA:Press Association
Following the announcement that schools would not reopen until the earliest March 8, Jonathan Van-Tam (JVT), the deputy chief medical officer for England, outlined the role of schools in the Covid outbreak.
He told the Downing Street press conference last night that children – who “very rarely” get seriously sick with Covid – do pass the coronavirus on to other people, but it was “predominantly” older teenagers who transmit the virus rather than primary school kids.
This suggests children can pass the virus to each other, as well as being infected by teachers.
JVT said: “Do teachers get Covid-19? Yes.
“Is it clear that teachers get Covid-19 from children or from each other? No, it is not clear. They could also pick it up in their own lives outside of school.
“Is there a clear signal in the data of a markedly increased rate of infection or mortality in teachers? No.
“But could infected children introduce the infection back in their own households and therefore contribute to R, absolutely yes.”
Teachers have got a good shout to be very high on the list
A recently published paper considered by Sage – the scientific government advisory group – said schools do play a role in the spread of the virus, but the extent to which is not known.
At the moment, the vaccine roll-out strategy is done in order of who is most vulnerable to severe Covid-19, and is mainly focused on jabbing the elderly first and then working down the age groups.
The vaccine roll-out strategy is done in order of who is most vulnerable to severe Covid-19
Today Labour has called for all teachers and school staff to be vaccinated during the February half-term, in a bid to get children back in classrooms earlier than March.
Campaigners have warned being stuck at home was damaging kids’ educational prospects and well-being.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected the idea of jabbing teachers first, challenging Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to “explain which vaccines he would take from which vulnerable groups” for the sake of teachers.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that teachers could be vaccinated before the general public – but only once the most vulnerable have received their dose after mid-February.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, January 24, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve taken the decision, quite rightly, to go through in order of clinical need, starting with those who are most likely to die from this disease.
“Of course we want to break the chains of transmission but we’ve also got to stop people dying from the disease if they catch it.
“We’re going through those who are clinically vulnerable… and after that there’s a perfectly reasonable debate to be had about who should go in what order next.
“Teachers have got a good shout to be very high on the list and those discussions are going on.”
There is huge public support for making teachers a priority so kids can return to classes as quickly as possible.
Six out of ten Brits want them to be given top priority to speed up the safe reopening of schools.
But the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – which advises the Government on how to use jabs – said teachers are not in the first four priority groups because it is not known what impact the programme is having on the spread of the virus.
This won’t be clearer for a few weeks, officials say.
If it is found to prevent transmission – and not just hospital rates and deaths – the roll-out strategy might be reconsidered.
Professor Anthony Harnden told Sophy RIdge: “One of the things we really don’t know, which is a key piece of information, is whether these vaccines prevent transmission or not,” he said.
“If studies do show they prevent transmission, it could be a whole new board game in terms of who you vaccinate and in what order. But at the moment our clear focus is trying to prevent hospitalisations and deaths.”