Vaccinate officers ‘as matter of urgency’
The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, is calling for frontline officers to be given greater priority and vaccinated as a matter of some urgency.
The PFNI says there are now more than 100 confirmed cases of officers with Covid19 with over 500 self-isolating as a result of contact trace requirements.
Mr Lindsay said: “We share the concerns around officers working on the frontline. It doesn’t take much for officer strength to be seriously depleted because of exposure to the virus in an operational environment.
“COVID transmission rates are high and frontline officers are not immune. The virus is already impacting negatively on the frontline both through infection rates and the requirement to self-isolate.
“Failure to vaccinate officers as a priority could lead to a depletion of police resources and expose individual officers to personal risk.
“It is imperative to act now to head off a potential crisis in policing. The lives of our police officers, and their families, matter, and the Government should show that they also matter to them by acting on this immediately.
“We have worked closely with the PSNI to ensure that operational safeguards and appropriate PPE are readily accessible and available to keep confirmed cases and numbers self-isolating to a minimum. However, the risks cannot be negated completely.
“The PFNI is keen to see officers vaccinated as quickly as possible and PSNI do have the facilities to administer this in-house and not impact on valuable NHS resources. Whilst we recognise the absolute importance of vaccinating the most vulnerable in society and NHS staff, frontline police officers should be afforded greater priority with regard to the roll out of the vaccination programme.
“This is a view held by all those involved in policing our society, both here and on a national basis.
“Police officers are essential frontline workers, dealing with a wide range of social issues and especially breaches of the COVID regulations. It is essential for officers to receive one of the vaccines as a matter of some urgency.
“We have to protect frontline policing and to avoid a resourcing crisis which could impact on public or officer safety.
“That means implementing an advanced programme of vaccination for our colleagues who, on a daily basis, are coming into physical contact with members of the public, including many of those who are not obeying the guidance in respect of COVID 19”.