The UK Government is now allowing church leaders in England to get a coronavirus jab.
However, the rule only applies to church leaders who are at risk of contracting the virus due to being in contact with public while doing ministry work.
John Stevens, national director for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), explained the caveats: “It's not necessarily saying that everybody who's a religious leader or church leader should be getting a vaccine ahead of others.
“The key element is this idea of being frontline social care workers. It's really designed for those who are religious leaders who are having contact with people in the community, those who are vulnerable. So it might, for example, be appropriate for church leaders who are engaging with people in hospital, meeting with elderly people, and those who are involved in running food banks.
“So I think church leaders have got to use a measure of discretion to decide whether they are really working in the frontline of social care as part of their role as a minister.”
Stevens has welcomed the move by the Government to classify church leaders as social care workers. He said it demonstrates how vital the Church is in responding to the pandemic.
“I think all through… the coronavirus process, the government has recognised the significant contribution that churches make to community life, and churches are often the front line of providing services to their community and people in need,” he said.
“Many church leaders and churches are doing a remarkable work in their community. I think to be able to be vaccinated will give them confidence… it will protect themselves, it will protect their families, it will protect the people that they're serving and they're caring for.”
Meanwhile, it was announced on Friday that people aged 40-49 are next in line for a Covid-19 vaccine, after Government advisers concluded that vaccinating in order of age remains the quickest way to cut deaths.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) considered whether groups such as teachers and police officers should be vaccinated next, but concluded speed is of the upmost importance, while age remains a major factor in serious illness.
Listen to Premier's interview with John Stevens here: