To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of categorising crematorium and cemetery staff as frontline healthcare staff for the purposes of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi):

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI identified that the vaccination of frontline healthcare workers should be a priority for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, as they are at high risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection and also transmitting that infection to those vulnerable to COVID-19 and other staff.

Crematorium operations may involve handling the deceased and therefore present a risk of exposure to COVID-19. However, these functions do not necessitate entering or accessing a healthcare setting and therefore presents a low risk of transmitting infection to vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment.