Vaccination rollout 'chaos' slammed by North Yorkshire Police and Fire Commissioner candidate
A candidate in the forthcoming North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections has criticised the Government's vaccine strategy as "chaotic".
Labour’s PFCC candidate for the county, Alison Hume, said she wanted to know why the police and first responders hadn't so far been given priority in the vaccination rollout.
Ms Hume said: “It’s devastating to hear that a number of police officers have died from Covid-19.
“It’s now absolutely essential that our blue light workers are treated with the respect they deserve.
“Whilst it’s right that vulnerable people are top of the vaccination priority list, we have to question why first responders don’t fall into that category.
"Surely anyone at high risk of exposure is therefore vulnerable?
Across the county there are reports of police officers receiving ‘left over’ vaccinations giving the impression they are an ‘after thought’ rather than a priority.”
Last week Ms Hume called on the Government to prioritise the vaccination of all first responders after two police forces revealed their officers had been infected after being spat at.
The Police Federation say some forces are reporting that up to 15 per cent of their officers are off sick or self-isolating.
The Fire Brigades Union reports that 3,000 fire service staff are currently in self-isolation.
Ms Hume said: “As I said last week, we must protect our protectors. I’m pleased that since then the matter has been raised in Parliament and the government says it will consider moving our emergency workers up the priority list.
"But there are still no firm guarantees and in the meantime our services continue to be under enormous strain.
“The Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced new fines for people who are refusing to follow the lockdown rules.
"If we’re expecting our officers to break up parties and gatherings, they must do so having first been protected from infection.
"Without our first responders our future is much more uncertain.”
Ms Hume is now calling on the Government to include first responders in the second wave of the vaccination programme.
She said: “To put their minds at rest and the understandable fear their families feel every time their loved one goes to work, it’s critical the Government announces in the next few days the plan to protect those people who risk their lives every day to protect us.
"Out of a population of 59 million in England and Wales there are 130,000 police officers – surely its not beyond the government’s ability to ensure their safety in the same way they ensure ours?”
The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) elections will take place on Thursday, May 6; the same day as the North Yorkshire County Council Elections.
PFCCs are elected every four years and are elected representatives who oversee a police force and fire service area.
There will be one PFCC elected for all of North Yorkshire.
Ms Hume will take on Conservative candidate Philip Allott.
The winner will replace the current commissioner Julia Mulligan, who has come to the end of her term.
Before last year's PFCC elections in North Yorkshire were postponed because of the pandemic, the Lib Dems chose Mark Christie as their candidate.
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