BASINGSTOKE'S MP, Maria Miller, has called for teachers to be included in the priority groups for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.

Mrs Miller spoke in the House of Commons debate on Health Protection- Coronavirus Restrictions on January 5.

During the debate, she called on the government to include teachers in the priority groups for Coronavirus vaccines.

She said: “All Governments have to make difficult decisions, but no other in peacetime has had to restrict our freedom so profoundly, and our role as MPs is to scrutinise that. I thank my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and his team for the briefings with medical experts provided to all Members to give professional interpretation of the data.

"However, every person we represent wants to know that the action that is being taken today is absolutely necessary and that there is a clear way out so that people can get their lives back as soon as possible."

She continued: "The clear way out that my right honourable friend has identified is the vaccine roll-out. The fact that the UK has led the way in getting two vaccines approved and has already had more people vaccinated than all the countries in Europe put together is a significant achievement. Paragraph 3(2) of the regulations therefore needs some clarification, because it changes the end date of the regulations to 31 March of this year, beyond the date when experts estimate that all those in the most vulnerable groups will have been vaccinated. I understand the need for caution, but will that caution give room for delay? I know that that is not the Secretary of State’s intent, so will he come to the House regularly to update us on the roll-out of the vaccine programme so that we can scrutinise, raise issues that we encounter with him and perhaps identify more unnecessary red tape that needs to be removed?

"With regard to the sequencing of the vaccination programme, the Government need to look again at the priority given to vaccinating teachers in our communities. We know the damage done to our children’s education through this disruption and the pressure on family life when schools are closed so, in order to protect the ability of schools to reopen and continue to be open in the coming months, and to protect children’s futures from more disruption, we need to think about putting teachers into the priority group.

"I wholeheartedly thank the whole of our North Hampshire NHS team, our local trust, Hampshire County Council and our amazing local borough council for the incredible work that they have done to help to keep my community safe in the recent months. It is with a heavy heart that I support these measures, but we can be in no doubt at all that they are essential today.”

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health, confirmed that extending priority to teachers and those who work in nurseries is under consideration by the government.

He said: “Of course we are considering who, once we have vaccinated those who are clinically vulnerable, should be the next priority for vaccination. Teachers, of course, have a very strong case, as have those who work in nurseries. Many colleagues on both sides of the House have made that point, and we will consider it.”