Coronavirus news live: Javid ‘leaning towards’ compulsory vaccines for NHS staff; Poland sees 90% week-on-week case rise

Health secretary says move will boost NHS staff vaccine uptake; Poland in grip of fourth Covid wave says health minister

Just back on those school anti-vaccine protests for a moment, my colleague Sarah Marsh has this report: Keir Starmer calls for schools to be protected from anti-vaccine protests

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) revealed this month that most of the schools surveyed by the union (79%) had been targeted by anti-vaxxers. This had mainly been through emails threatening legal action, but the ASCL said in some cases staff had been threatened with physical harm and some protesters have gained access to school sites.

Starmer said: “It is sickening that anti-vax protesters are spreading dangerous misinformation to children in protests outside of schools. The uptake of vaccines among children is far too low and the government’s rollout is painfully slow. Everything must be done to get those eligible jabbed as quickly as possible in this public health emergency.

“Labour believes the law around public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) urgently needs to be updated so that local authorities can rapidly create exclusion zones for anti-vax protests outside of schools.”

PSPOs can be used to disperse people from a public area and have previously been used to move on protesters outside abortion clinics or to allow police to confiscate alcohol in certain spaces.

But gaining permission to impose one takes significant consultation, and Labour is calling for an expedited process in cases of preventing harassment and intimidation of children outside schools if agreed to by the school, the leader of the local council, and the local police chief constable.

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