Prisons: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 15th January 2021.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the potential merits of giving prison staff occupational priority within the covid-19 vaccine programme.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what representations he has received from (a) the POA, (b) Napo and (c) other criminal justice sector organisations on the potential merits of giving prison staff occupational priority within the vaccine programme.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Vaccines are at the centre of the Government’s plan to ensure life can return to normal as soon as possible. We have announced agreements with seven different vaccine developers, securing access to more than 350 million doses to be made available across the UK. Detailed planning is underway between HMPPS, NHS and public health bodies to prepare for the delivery of vaccinations in prisons.

We have worked very closely with public health authorities since the beginning of the pandemic and continue to do so to ensure our approach is based on the best scientific advice available.

The decision about who will be eligible for the vaccine in Health and Justice settings, which includes prisons, is being decided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Health and Justice healthcare teams are also prioritising influenza vaccination clinics in prisons and have been encouraged to complete these as early as possible, to minimise any impact on the Covid-19 vaccine programme.

The POA, NAPO, and other recognised HMPPS trade unions are being provided with regular updates on the vaccine situation as part of ongoing engagement on the Covid-19 situation. As part of this engagement, the unions have enquired about any potential for HMPPS front line staff in particular to be accorded some level of priority in the roll-out and have been briefed in line with current advice. Public safety will always come first: a vaccine will only be approved for use if it has met robust standards on safety, effectiveness and quality through clinical trials.

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