The Government unveiled the confirmed priority groups for phase two of UK vaccinations – the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is choosing age as the deciding factor
According to the report released today (26 February) by the JCVI, there are three priority groups for the next phase of UK vaccination:
- People aged 40 to 49 years;
- People aged 30 to 39 years;
- And those aged 18 to 29 years.
In phase one, there were 9 groups of people classed as highly-vulnerable. Phase one vaccination (one dose to everyone considered vulnerable) is expected to end in mid-April.
The second phase of vaccination is expected to start in early Summer. By late Autumn, 2021, all UK adults are expected to have their first dose.
The recommendations made by the Committee will most likely be followed by the UK Government, as they were for phase one of the vaccine rollout.
Will people in public-facing jobs be prioritised?
According to the JCVI, the individuals in teaching jobs or other public-facing roles most at risk of death or hospitalisation are 50 years or older. Men working a public-facing job, aged between 40-49, are particularly at risk of being critically ill with COVID-19. These people will otherwise be covered by age-prioritised vaccination, a strategy which the Committee describes as “operationally simple.”
This is why no other jobs but healthcare professionals were identified for vaccination at phase one, and why this advice will probably hold as phase two comes into existence.
Will ethnic minorities be prioritised for vaccination?
There is now a significant body of evidence showing that COVID creates worse chances of hospitalisation or death for non-White individuals, as seen in a report released today (26 February) that highlights the continuing impact on Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in particular.
The JCVI explained that with people aged from 18 to 49: “there is an increased risk of hospitalisation in males, those who are in certain black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) communities.”
This is especially true of those with an obese or morbidly obese BMI over 30, and individuals who live in socio-economic deprivation. They recognise that BAME communities are more likely to be hospitalised. Because of this, the Committee suggests that vaccine uptake measures are ramped up by the Government among these communities.
On why there is so much vaccine hesitancy in the BAME population, the report tentatively offers: “The reasons for slower uptake in BAME communities are unclear at present.”
What about children and COVID?
No news about child vaccinations yet.
The Committee suggests that there needs to be more time to review how adolescents respond to vaccination. With children, one of the key concerns is that they will continue to transmit the virus after adults are vaccinated – while experiencing asymptomatic infection or the mildest form of COVID-19 themselves.
The issue is on the radar of this advisory committee, so keep your eyes peeled for future recommendations for how to tackle this issue. One key problem would be convincing parents to allow their children to be vaccinated – especially when they’re at low risk of hospitalisation and vaccine hesitancy is already happening with adults.
People with moderate forms of asthma are not currently being considered as a priority group for vaccination either.