covid vaccineMillions of people under 50 years old will be vaccinated at work under proposals being considered by ministers to accelerate the national rollout from the spring, The Telegraph can disclose.
Ministers are discussing a “jabs at work” plan to help vaccinate nearly 30 million younger adults once vaccinations have been offered to the vulnerable and elderly, Cabinet sources said.
The Government announced this week that it is expecting to have vaccinated the nine priority groups that account for 99 per cent of all coronavirus deaths, including the over-50s, by early May.
However, Whitehall sources said on Saturday night that the pace of vaccinations meant the target could be achieved by April.
Meanwhile, it emerged:
Ministers are working on a “targeted” vaccine passport scheme to allow Britons who have had jabs to return to normal daily life.
Private schools are preparing to lengthen the summer term, amid fears that the Government’s attempts to get children back to the classroom will flounder.
Britain’s security agencies have been urged to investigate one of the UK’s testing suppliers over its links to a Chinese firm accused in a US Trade Office report of attempting to collect and store the DNA of American citizens.
The Department for Health and Social Care has said more areas will have additional testing made available to control the spread of Covid-19 variants.
GPs in England will be paid an additional £10 by the NHS for every housebound patient they vaccinate against Covid-19.
Business lobby groups, unions and other bodies are understood to have submitted their bids for where employees should rank in the priority order among the under-50s.
Under the plan, frontline emergency services, teachers, staff in homeless shelters, certain staff in local councils like social workers would be at the front of the vaccines queue as well as delivery drivers, supermarket workers and those working in essential factories like food processing factories.
Others including prison staff, police officers and even jurors who are forced to leave their homes to do jury service could also be prioritised.
Under a proposal discussed by ministers, roving vaccination teams would go to places of work to ensure that the correct groups of people were being inoculated, and to speed up the rollout.
The Government has announced that regular rapid-result coronavirus testing will be made available more widely to employees in companies with more than 50 staff who are continuing to travel to work during the lockdown.
Officials said the move is part of efforts to “normalise” testing in the workplace and ensure the safety of those who cannot work from home by identifying asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19.
The final decision on how to manage the second stage of the vaccine rollout for the under-50s will be made by the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in coming weeks.
However, ministers are already weighing up whether to rank the population by those who are at most risk of catching the virus in the second rollout, pushing home workers to the back of the vaccine queue.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, told MPs last week that phase two could include “targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.
“This could include first responders, the military, those involved in the justice system, teachers, transport workers, and public servants essential to the pandemic response.”
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, also pledged that in the second wave of jabs “we want to get down to all key workers who come into regular contact with others who may be exposed to the virus”.
A senior minister added that while no decision has been taken by the JCVI “that is definitely one of the options that has been discussed, whether you break it down by certain occupations”.
A senior Number 10 source stressed that no decisions had been taken about the second rollout, saying: “The JCVI is looking at the next stage and analysing evidence around what we do after we have vaccinated the one to nine.
“The basis of our approach based on their advice so far is that we should vaccinate those people in the order that they are most likely to end up in hospital or dying from coronavirus.”
As of Friday, the UK had given a first jab to nearly 11.5 million people and is aiming to reach 15 million vaccinations by Feb 15.
Would you agree to be vaccinated at work? Let us know in the comments section below