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Aberdeenshire MSP raises concerns that police won’t move up priority list for Covid vaccines despite incidents

By Kirsty Brown

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A north-east MSP has voiced concerns after it was revealed police officers across the north-east will not be given an early Covid vaccine.

MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett, described the Scottish Government’s decision as “shameful and a cop out” following several instances of police being coughed at or spat on while attending incidents in the region.

After being contacted by a concerned parent of a police officer, who has concerns over the wellbeing of his daughter while on duty, Mr Burnett submitted a written question to health secretary Jeane Freeman.

In reply Jeane Freeman revealed there will be “no sectoral prioritisation” for officers to receive the vaccine.

Alexander Burnett.
Alexander Burnett.

He has now called on police officers to be moved up the priority list as a matter of urgency, and said: “The police have been on the front line of the Covid-19 response across the north-east, protecting communities at great personal risk.

“But we are regularly hearing about disgusting instances of officers being spat at or coughed on yet despite this, Jeane Freeman has confirmed to me they are not on the priority list.

“It’s a shameful decision and a cop out from the SNP Government who aren’t taking the dangers posed to police seriously.

“Officers should be moved up the priority list as a matter of urgency and the reluctance from the SNP to do this will only add to the stress police are under.

“The recent rise in Covid absences, coupled with other winter-related illnesses and holidays, means it’s even more imperative that the vaccine reaches them sooner rather than later.”

There were also 41 coronavirus-related absences among police in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray in October.

In her reply to Mr Burnett, Ms Freeman said: “Currently there is no sectoral prioritisation of any workers other than frontline health and social care workers.

“This is because we don’t know if the vaccine prevents spread, but it does reduce the harm to those most at risk should they catch the virus.

“Individual members of the police force as with other occupations will be called forward for vaccination according to their position on the priority list, if they are eligible within the JCVI Cohorts.”

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