IT is unlikely that teachers in Wales will be among the first people in line for the coronavirus vaccine after the first nine priority groups have been protected.

There have been calls to vaccinate teachers as children return to the classroom - the youngest children returned to face-to-face learning on Monday - however education minister Kirsty Williams and deputy chief medical officer Dr Chris Jones said this would be unlikely to happen.

"The current approach is to get through the nine high risk groups which represent 99 per cent of all deaths due to Covid," said Dr Jones.

"All countries are signed up to that and that's what the plan is until April and there's no place to vary from that.


"Phase two is the wider roll out throughout the population and we await JCVI advice about that. I think we'll probably hear something over the next couple of weeks.

"My sense is that age will still be a very important factor in the prioritisation of that roll-out because it still determines outcome.

"Occupation is quite a difficult thing to put into such a programme, because it is often very hard to disentangle the effect of the workplace from travelling to the workplace and other factors in individual peoples’ lives.

"You will understand how much we value the work of teachers by what we've said about our focus on children's outcomes.

"We know that children are being harmed by the current situation with schools closed, so we do need teachers to go back to do their valuable job.

"However, even if there was an occupational slant to the JCVI, teachers probably would not be top of the list. There are unfortunately other occupations which represent significantly higher risk than the general population whereas generally teachers are actually lower risk than general population."

"We will be guided by - as always - the advice of the JCVI," said Ms Williams when asked about the possibility of teachers being prioritised after the first nine priority groups have been protected.

"This is an independent committee of experts who are there to advise governments on how best to deliver an immunisation and vaccination programme.

"They've done that on the basis of risk - who is more likely to suffer significant harm or, tragically, death as a result of contracting Covid, and that's why the vaccination groups are set out as they are.

"We await a further advice from JCVI on what should happen after April when the first one to nine groups have been vaccinated, and of course whatever the JCVI recommend that's what the Welsh Government will follow.

"With regards to teachers, I understand the anxiety as I understand the anxiety of all of our frontline workers, but when it comes to teachers I think it bears repeating once again that in terms of deaths, hospitalisations, or even test positivity, thankfully our teachers and our teaching assistants are no greater risk than the general population."