Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for all teachers to be vaccinated for coronavirus during the February half-term.
Starmer said Boris Johnson should “bring forward” vaccines for teachers and school staff in order to fulfil the “national priority” of reopening schools.
He said they should be given their first doses once the 14 million people in the top priority groups – over-70s, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and clinically extremely vulnerable people – have had their first jab.
The government aims to have done this by 15 February: the start date for most schools’ half-terms.
Starmer asked Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday: “Everybody agrees that reopening our schools should be a national priority. But that requires a plan, and the PM hasn’t got a plan.
“So as a first step, does he agree with me that once the first four categories and the most vulnerable have been vaccinated by mid-February, he should bring forward the vaccination of key workers and use the window of the February half-term to vaccinate all teachers and all school staff?”
Watch: Johnson’s and Starmer’s opening exchanges at PMQs
Johnson rejected this, however, saying only teachers and school staff in the top nine groups set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will be given priority for a vaccine.
Starmer criticised Johnson for his answer, saying the half-term in the middle of next month is a “fantastic opportunity” to vaccinate teachers “and I’m no wiser as to whether the PM thinks that’s a good idea or bad idea”.
Schools have been closed in England since Johnson imposed a third national lockdown on 4 January.
In a separate statement in the House of Commons later on Wednesday, the PM announced schools won’t reopen until 8 March at the earliest.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown