With the next phase of the vaccination rollout program beginning shortly, prisoners could see themselves being put on a priority list to receive the COVID-19 jab.
Prisoners to skip the queue?
Outrage has poured as key workers such as teachers–who will be returning to schools on 8 March and ending at home education since the pandemic began– will not be receiving special treatment despite being at a greater risk of contagion.
The loophole has come about logistically as local areas have the flexibility to vaccinate prisoners in larger groups to facilitate the process while the general public will have to wait for a specific time and date to be assigned administration of the jab according to their age.
However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not officially come out with a statement recommending prisoners to get vaccinated first. A department of Health spokesman said:
Prisoners will not be prioritised for vaccination. They are being vaccinated in line with the priority groups set out by the independent JCVI – no faster and no further than the general public. The rollout of vaccines in prisons will continue to follow this independent advice.
The loophole for prisoners might not be the best solution
So although the technicality exists no word has been set in stone as of late. In fact, some believe that prioritizing certain groups for logistical reasons would only be counter to the efforts of immunizing the population as a a whole. Professor JCVI deputy chairman Professor Anthony Harnden told the Commons Science and Technology Committee:
One of the key reasons that this programme has been so successful is because it has been simple, it's been deliverable and it's been rolled out very quickly and people understand it. If you start picking out certain groups, it will make it more complicated. The risk of doing that is slowing the programme down.