PFNI urges devolved administration to 'prove its worth' by giving police vaccine priority
The chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) is calling on the devolved administration to “prove its worth” by choosing to prioritise officers for the vaccine.
The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has failed to include police officers for vaccination under phase two of the roll-out, but PFNI chair Mark Lindsay is urging the health and justice ministers to adopt a different approach from what is happening at national level.
Mr Lindsay said: “Devolution is supposed to be about doing things differently and what’s in the best interests of all our people. I want the justice and health ministers to step away from the JCVI decision and announce that our officers will be prioritised.
“Day and daily, our officers are at significant risk of infection as they police the pandemic. The decision of the JCVI fails to recognise those risks and, in my view, is an insult to frontline officers and is baffling and unjustified.
“It is right that the most vulnerable and health and care workers are ahead in the queue, but there is no recognition of the work that is done by officers who often find themselves exposed to situations in people’s homes, hospitals or on the street where they run the risk of contracting the virus.”
Mr Lindsay added: “Officer numbers have been depleted by Covid-19, which means that their colleagues are being asked to do more to plug gaps. Vaccinating officers would stabilise the situation and mean fewer are infected or self-isolating.
“Our ministers, particularly in health andjJustice, can fix this unacceptable situation, and I would call on them to take immediate steps to acknowledge our predicament and set aside the advice of the JCVI.
“Ministers cannot be complacent or hide behind the advice. Doing nothing is not an option.”