On 11 January TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, wrote to British transport ministers calling on them to ensure that essential transport workers are next in line for vaccination against coronavirus.
Cortes argued that frontline transport workers have “put their lives on the line” during the pandemic and requested that all essential transport workers are next in line for vaccination after vulnerable groups and healthcare and care workers.
He pointed out that rail, buses, ferries, tube, trams and in engineering and support roles are all modes of transport strategically essential to our country being able to function and it can only be safely delivered with healthy staff.
The Transport Secretary for the Westminster Government, Grant Shapps, has replied – and his comments are as follows:
Thank you for your email of 11 January about prioritising transport workers for vaccination against Covid-19. We recognise the critical role transport workers have played and continue to play in the national response to the pandemic, and sadly the death toll amongst some transport workers, which you highlighted in your email.
We are grateful to transport workers for their tremendous work since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the role they have played in keeping key workers and goods moving has been fundamental. You will be aware that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are advising the Government on the prioritisation of vaccinations, as independent experts.
As you noted, the JVCI have advised that phase one of the vaccination programme should target care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 and health and social care workers, then other people in order of age and risk.?
It is likely a number of transport workers will be vaccinated in phase one due to their age or underlying health conditions. The vaccination programme will build up steadily in the weeks and months ahead and will gradually be extended to more and more people.
Prioritisation for the second phase of vaccinations has not yet been determined, though the JCVI has noted that vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure to Covid-19 due to their occupation should be a priority in the second phase, including transport workers (the JCVI advice can be seen here).
We are working very closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to explore the evidence for prioritising transport workers within the second phase of vaccinations.
Yours sincerely, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT