COVID-19 Vaccination: childminders: update (19 January 2021)

COVID-19 Vaccination: childminders: update (19 January 2021)
SCMA is aware that it has been confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to Community Childminders in Fife. We have received contact from some of our members asking why this is happening at a local level, and when the vaccine may be more widely available for all childminders throughout Scotland. 

For background information, SCMA is currently contracted by local authorities to deliver Community Childminding services in Aberdeen, the Scottish Borders, Fife and Glasgow. These are supported interventions for vulnerable families and can be based on referrals from health visitors or social work. 

At a national level the Scottish Government has prioritised health and social care staff for receiving the vaccine during the first phase of its rollout. This is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) -  an independent scientific committee which advises the governments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on vaccination. Each local NHS Board is, in turn, working with their related local authorities to identify these health and social care staff to receive the vaccine. 

Fife Council, in conjunction with NHS Fife, has recognised that Community Childminders in Fife are involved in the direct delivery of frontline social care services. These services are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination within their allocation for staff and volunteers in Voluntary Grant Funded Services, alongside local authority staff and private providers also delivering social care services.

SCMA was recently contacted by Fife Council and we were asked to pass on an invitation to receive the vaccine to these Community Childminders. SCMA was happy to do this, as we believe that NHS Fife and Fife Council’s inclusion of Community Childminders within prioritisation for the vaccine is very positive given their frontline role in supporting vulnerable children and families in Fife. It is also important recognition of the role of Third Sector providers. 

However, we believe that this prioritisation should not just be restricted to Community Childminders and that provision of the vaccine should be extended to all childminders. SCMA wrote to NHS Fife requesting this extension.  NHS Fife has confirmed that they are not able to extend this to the wider childminding community in Fife at this time as they are not included as a priority group within the guidance from the JCVI and the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.

Recognising the leading role that many childminders in Scotland continue to play in supporting families and the national response to COVID-19 at this critical time, SCMA has been urging the Scottish Government since last month to prioritise childminders, other childcare staff and teachers for early receipt of the vaccine. We were pleased that in her emergency statement on 4 January 2021, the First Minister reported that the Scottish Government is currently considering extending the prioritisation of the vaccine to childcare staff and teachers. We have continued to press the case for this. 

Most recently, at the end of last week, SCMA advised the Scottish Government of the development in Fife, that we are very supportive of Community Childminders receiving the vaccine given their frontline delivery of social care services, but also strongly advised that this needs to be extended to all childminders - not just in Fife, but throughout Scotland. 

All childminders are following the same COVID-19 operating guidance, and are operating in broadly comparable environments and settings at this time. As such, we believe that a commitment to extending the vaccine to all childminders, and a timeline for delivering this, is urgently required.  

SCMA will continue to press the case for childminders to be prioritised for receiving the vaccine and we will update you.

Graeme McAlister
Chief Executive