More than 3,000 Cumbrians have signed a petition calling for all people working in schools to be added to the coronavirus vaccine priority list.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the programme is currently prioritising those most vulnerable of dying from coronavirus, but critical workers will also be in the “highest category of phase two”.
On Monday evening, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron praised the ‘immense service’ of people working in schools, and called for them to be added on to the priority list as well.
Speaking during the debate, Tim said: “We are asking teachers, teaching assistants and other school staff to put themselves in harm’s way for good reason, so it is right that they be considered as part of the priority vaccination list alongside others.
“No one wants to muscle their way to the front of the queue, but we recognise that these are people who are doing an immense service for our children and our country, and who are putting themselves at risk at the same time.”
In response, the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi said: “Primary and secondary schools are open, delivering both online education and education in school for the most vulnerable children and the children of NHS and social care workers, who look after the people who are most vulnerable and whom we are trying to protect from dying.
“I understand the sentiment behind the petition and pay tribute to the vital work that teachers in schools and childcare workers do to see us through this difficult time.
“However, I believe that our strategy of putting the most vulnerable first is the right one, morally, ethically and practically, but I recognise that even with such brilliant work in full swing the next few weeks will be difficult, especially in education settings.”