Soldiers to be bumped up vaccine list if they are working on the frontline, Defence Secretary says

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Soldiers working on the front line should be vaccinated as soon as possible, Ben Wallace suggested
Soldiers working on the front line should be vaccinated as soon as possible, Ben Wallace suggested

Soldiers are to be bumped up the vaccine list if they are working on the frontline, the Defence Secretary has suggested. 

Ben Wallace told the Commons on Tuesday that “as we speak we are working out what key cohorts should be vaccinated in order to preserve and underline the nation’s defence”. 

Mr Wallace said: “Obviously they will get priority but I expect them to be a small group at first.” 

Mr Wallace added the Government was currently “working on a list right now about who we could prioritize to make sure we underpin the very very important defence task”. 

There are currently more than 5,000 UK Armed Forces personnel currently deployed to support the response to Coronavirus across the UK, working on 70 different tasks ranging from schools testing to the rollout of vaccines.

Meanwhile, Mr Wallace said the armed forces' response to the pandemic represents "the most significant domestic resilience operation in peacetime", as he confirmed 10 military assessment teams have been sent to each of the 10 NHS regions and devolved administrations to help coordinate the response - including supporting the vaccination effort.

He added that the military remained ready to “do more to assist” as required, and insisted that it was not being compromised by helping with the covid task force. 

He said: "We have taken no eye off the ball let's say when it comes to defending the nation, but at the same time shows the importance of concurrent activity and resilience in being able to deliver other tasks that were definitely unforeseen a few years ago."

Meanwhile Stephen Morgan MP, the shadow minister for the Armed Forces, called on the Government to “rapidly ramp up testing for our armed forces to protect those who are helping to protect us”, as he said “the armed forces are doing vital work to support frontline staff at this critical juncture in our work to vaccinate Britain”. 

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