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9 Mar, 2021 09:30

Prisoners not prioritised for Covid-19 jabs, says justice secretary, despite series of dangerous outbreaks in UK prisons

Prisoners not prioritised for Covid-19 jabs, says justice secretary, despite series of dangerous outbreaks in UK prisons

A British minister has confirmed that UK prison inmates will not receive priority Covid-19 vaccines, as the virus ravages prisons throughout the country and prisoners find themselves locked up 90 percent of the day.

“Prisoners have found that the restrictions have been greater on them than would normally be the case,” Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News on Tuesday, but claimed inmates understand that the additional restrictions placed on their lives are necessary and in their own interest. 

However, Buckland said that the plight of the prisoners and a series of Covid-19 outbreaks within UK prisons did not mean inmates would be receiving priority vaccines.

“Prisoners shouldn’t get ahead of the queue but should be inoculated in accordance with the priority set for the rest of the community… My particular priority is that prison staff get inoculated as quickly as possible,” he said. 

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The minister stated that prison staff, like prisoners, would be able to receive the vaccine in line with the existing categories. “We are already working through prison staff who fall within the existing categories; the next categories will follow.”

In recent weeks, there have been further reports of Covid surging in UK prisons, with outbreaks in HMP Hindley, HMP Liverpool and HMP Whatton all accounting for spikes in regional infection rates. 

The UK has set the ambitious target of inoculating 32 million people by mid-May, which includes the clinically vulnerable and all over-50s. The campaign has slowed in recent weeks, but the government remains confident of hitting its target and providing the second dose to those already vaccinated. 

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