It is great news that there should soon be vaccines available to help us combat the Covid pandemic. However, we know that it will not be possible to vaccinate the whole of the UK population immediately, so it will be necessary to set priorities for who will get the vaccine first.
The Government has taken the reasonable approach that those most at risk of dying from the disease should be first in line, along with those providing our health care services, but I wonder if that is the best strategy for getting the country back on its feet.
I completely agree that health workers should be vaccinated first, but I think the next priority groups should be those that make our economy tick: that is, working age adults.
We should perhaps start with people aged 60-70, who are at relatively high risk because of their age, and systematically work down to the 20-30 year old age group, who are at relatively low risk.
This approach would ensure that the economy recovered more quickly and without the need for future lockdowns, because an increasing number of people in the key spreader groups (mostly the under 70s), would be vaccinated. This in turn would enable us to keep our vital national systems and services functioning, and gradually lead us back to something like ‘normality’.
I can see this proposal meeting significant resistance because it does not prioritise the most vulnerable in our society, nor does it address the issues affecting school children and students. However, young people are relatively little affected by the disease and over the period of the pandemic we have devised systems for keeping other people safe, ranging from wearing face masks and social distancing to self-isolation or, in the case of care homes, institutional isolation.
Although these systems can be hard to live with, we have seen that they do work and they could continue to work while the economically active part of the population was building up its immunity through vaccination. And of course, when we have enough vaccine, to go round the entire population should be immunised. This may not be a perfect solution but I think it would be a viable way forward.
Robert Monro, Whitchurch
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