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Taxi drivers will ‘absolutely’ be considered for early COVID vaccination says Health Minister

Image credit: Number 10 (Flickr CC2.0)

Taxi drivers will ‘absolutely’ be considered for early coronavirus vaccinations says Health Minister.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was responding to questions from MPs on the subject of COVID vaccines which are now available, during a debate at the House of Commons yesterday.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East and Shadow Transport Minister, asked the Heath Secretary: “May I press the Secretary of State on the point about transport workers, particularly taxi drivers, who we know are vulnerable not just because of their contact with the public, but because they are overwhelmingly drawn from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, which puts them more at risk?

“Under the headings of prioritising occupations and minimising the inequalities in the second tranche, are they likely to be considered for vaccination early?”

Matt Hancock responded in the House of Commons saying: “We absolutely will consider that factor when we come to the groups after the clinical prioritised groups.”

Taxi representatives have already been pushing for taxi drivers to be one of the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

A fortnight ago, London’s biggest taxi driver association, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), called on Government to include cabbies as one of the first groups to receive any vaccine.

Men working as taxi drivers and chauffeurs were shown to be one of the most at risk in an occupational study based around the death rates of COVID-19.

In the summer, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) analysed all 4,761 deaths involving the coronavirus in the working age population, those aged 20 to 64 years, in England and Wales registered between 9 March and 25 May. Of those deaths, 134 were taxi drivers or chauffeurs.

Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (3,122) were among men. Because of the higher number of deaths among men, 17 specific occupations were found to have raised rates of death involving COVID-19, some of which included:

  • Taxi drivers and chauffeurs (65.3 deaths per 100,000; 134 deaths),

  • Bus and coach drivers (44.2 deaths per 100,000; 53 deaths),

  • Chefs (56.8 deaths per 100,000; 49 deaths),

  • Sales and retail assistants (34.2 deaths per 100,000; 43 deaths).

Of the 17 specific occupations among men in England and Wales found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19, data shows that 11 of these have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from Black and Asian ethnic backgrounds (BAME); for women, data shows that two of the four specific occupations with elevated rates have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from BAME backgrounds.

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