'They cough right in your face' - Call for Covid test centre staff to be vaccinated

  • Watch Claire Manning's report

A Devon man who carries out nose and throat swabs on people who are potentially infected with Covid-19 says he and his colleagues should be prioritised for vaccination.

Speaking to ITV News West Country, the man said he finds it is often not possible to keep a safe distance from people when he is testing them and he regularly believes he is being put at risk.

The man - who did not want to be identified - said: "One experience that comes to mind is an old man that clearly had alzheimers, he had been driven to the centre by his son and he refused to come to the window, he was coughing, he was spluttering, he didn't know where he was and I had to lean right into the car.

"I came away from that thinking there is no way that was safe but it was the only way to do the test because he wouldn't cooperate - not that it was his fault."

The man told ITV West Country News he swabs up to 40 people in a normal work day.

Staff at testing centres wear PPE, but he believes it is not enough.

He wants to see people who work at Covid testing centres to be put into Priority Group 2 for the vaccine alongside frontline health and social care workers.

He said: "Other frontline workers are absolutely essential, it is essential that hospital workers get the vaccine, it is essential that people in care homes do and so do we.

"We are in just as much contact with the virus and we do just as vital work in combating covid so all I want is for us to be treated like other frontline workers."

The Department of Health says people who work at Covid testing centres aren't in close contact with people and they have appropriate PPE.

A statement from NHS South West said: "The NHS is continuing to prioritise those the 'Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation' and the Government has decided will benefit the most, specifically those aged 70 and over, people who live and work in care homes, and health and social care workers."

The Government is aiming to offer vaccinations to 15 million people in the UK by the middle of February and millions more people by spring.