A PETITION launched by Tilford’s Laura Sylvester calling on the government to prioritise Covid-19 vaccines for first responders in the police, fire, and ambulance services has been signed by 50,000 people within a fortnight.

While “frontline health and social care workers” are second in the government’s published priority list for the vaccine roll-out, police officers – Laura’s boyfriend included – do not feature at all.

Laura’s petition states: “The British government need to prioritise and deploy the Covid-19 vaccine to first sesponders alongside NHS workers. First responders are at a higher risk of contracting and transmitting Covid-19 due to their increased level of exposure with the general public every day and lack of regular testing.”

Laura’s petition can be signed online at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/564155 and if 100,000 signatures can be secured, the issue must be debated in parliament.

Her calls echo those made by police representatives in Surrey and Hampshire this week, to protect emergency workers against the “increasing numbers who think that lockdown rules don’t apply to them”.

Hampshire Police Federation secretary Garry Smith said: “While the public and non-essential workers are told to stay at home, our members are still reporting for duty and still being deployed to all manner of calls.

“It’s only right that officers are vaccinated to safeguard the public as soon as possible.”

Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro added police officers being deliberately coughed or spat at were “an unpleasant enough experience in normal circumstances” but the highly- transmissible strain of the virus made it “now even more frightening”.

Mr Munro suggested policing should be provided with its own vaccination stock, which could then be administered by force occupational health departments.

And the Surrey Police Federation has also urged the public to “take personal responsibility” and do the right thing, or expect to be dealt with.

Chair Mel Warnes said: “There are increasing numbers who think lockdown rules don’t apply to them.

“Police officers being vaccinated – after the most vulnerable in the country – will go a long way to alleviate any further risk or worries to officers and their families.”