Funeral sector should be a priority for Covid vaccine, says funeral director 

A.J. Coggles in Wisbech

A.J. Coggles branch in Lynn Road, Wisbech. - Credit: Supplied by AJ Coggles

A funeral director who has been on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic is hoping the sector will be among those prioritised for the vaccine.

David Coggles, the son of A.J. Coggles in Lynn Road, Wisbech, explained those in the funeral industry have felt as though they're the “forgotten frontline workers” at times.

David said: “I know a lot of people say their sector should be a higher priority for the Covid-19 vaccine, but I think we have a fair argument.

“Funeral operatives need to be protected from the virus as we can get called to a range of situations and places including care homes, hospitals and private residences.

“Of course, we follow all the guidelines and wear full PPE - but the vaccine would give me and my colleagues the peace of mind that we have that extra protection to maintain our high level of care.

“Like other sectors, if someone within our company was to test positive, we would potentially have to close while staff isolated. We can’t let that happen to the families we are supporting during what is already a difficult time.”

He added: “Honestly, if the vaccine is offered to me, I’d jump at the chance to have it. I’d also welcome the rapid lateral flow COVID-19 testing for all funeral operatives as I feel this service should’ve been made available to us as well.”

Most Read

Funeral operatives are classed as keyworkers and not frontline.

The Government has published a list of groups which will be prioritised to receive the vaccine - and funeral operatives and mortuary technicians are included.

But the Prime Minister announced on Monday night four groups of key occupations will receive their first jab by mid-February – and the funeral industry is waiting for confirmation that it is among them. In fact, a petition has also been launched to put pressure on the Government.

Terry Tennens, the Chief Executive of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF), said: "Pretty much since the start of the first lockdown, funeral directors have felt like the forgotten emergency service.

“However, our members are very much on the frontline of the pandemic, caring for families and their loved ones who have succumbed to this terrible disease.”

He added: “It's incredibly frustrating that we have had to petition the Government extensively to get our members included in priority groups for the vaccination.

“And it remains a source of frustration that we are yet to see funeral directors offered regular asymptomatic testing as is this case with healthcare workers.”

As the nation was plunged into a third lockdown, funerals can still go ahead and up to 30 mourners can attend depending on the size of the venue.

However, guidelines change at short notice.

David said: “Losing a loved one is hard enough, never mind everything else that’s going on in this world.

“We want to make sure families are well looked after and will do what we can to make that farewell special for them and their loved one.”