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Professors Van-Tam and Vallance's comments show vaccine priority list must change

28th Jan 2021

Following comments by Jonathan Van-Tam and Patrick Vallance that vaccines are almost certain to prevent covid transmission, we're urging the Government to give adults living with people with blood cancer a higher vaccine priority

Our chief executive, Gemma Peters, responds to last night's news.

We're once again calling on the Government to urgently give adults living with people with blood cancer a higher vaccine priority, following comments by Jonathan Van-Tam and Patrick Vallance that vaccines are almost certain to prevent covid transmission.

There are 200,000 people with blood cancer in the UK who are among the highest risk from covid. They are likely to get less protection from the vaccine because their immune systems do not work as well. But until now, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not prioritised members of their households because of a lack of data to prove the vaccines stop transmission.

But at yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, Profs Van-Tam and Vallance confirmed that it is extremely likely that the vaccines will have some effect on transmission.

Prof Van-Tam said the vaccines “really couldn’t fail to have some effect on transmission” and Patrick Vallance said that "you don’t have vaccines with this degree of efficacy without them having some effect [on transmission]”.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam's comments on transmission:

An hour later, a man with blood cancer asked Prof Van-Tam on Channel 4 News why his wife, who works in a supermarket, was not being prioritised. Prof Van-Tam replied: “The JCVI continues to look at these questions very diligently. They are an independent expert body and I’m going to stick the advice they offer to us.”

But Blood Cancer UK is warning that overwhelmingly likelihood that the vaccines will have some impact on transmission means the failure to prioritise the households of people with blood cancer is putting lives at risk.

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Blood Cancer UK, said: “People with blood cancer are extremely vulnerable to covid and have weakened immune systems, and so vaccinating the people they live with will be important for protecting them.

“It has been clear for some time that it is self-evidently wrong that a 40-year-old who lives with someone with leukaemia won’t get a vaccine any sooner than a 40-year-old who lives on their own. But by acknowledging that the vaccines are almost certain to reduce transmission, Jonathan Van-Tam and Patrick Vallance have driven a coach and horses through any rationale that might have existed for not prioritising household members.

“The Government is right to be guided by the JCVI on prioritisation for the vaccine, but it is unacceptable for it to refuse to give worried people with blood cancer any explanation for why their household members are not being prioritised.

“People with blood cancer have endured a huge mental health toll because of the pandemic and they are tragically over-represented in intensive care admissions. It is vital the Government does more to support them, and the case for making the adults they live with a higher priority for a vaccine is now unanswerable.”

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Support our campaign to get all household members vaccinated

We're calling on the Government to protect people with blood cancer by prioritising the vaccine for adults who live in the same household. It only takes a few minutes to contact your local MP, and your action could save lives.

Contact your MP

Topics:

COVID-19

Types:

News