Compulsory COVID and flu jabs being considered for England health staff

pharmafile | September 9, 2021 | News story | |   

Plans to make COVID-19 and flu vaccinations compulsory for frontline NHS staff in England are currently being discussed by the government.

Plans are already in place to make all care home staff fully vaccinated against COVID-19, despite some unions and care organisations warning against the move saying it will lead to staff shortages.

Those working in care homes that are under the regulation of the Care Quality Commission need to be double jabbed, unless medically exempt, from November.

These latest proposals, if agreed, would extend that to all health service workers and would mean that only those who are fully vaccinated – unless exempt – would be able to be deployed to deliver health and care services.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid is urging all health service workers to get both jabs to protect vulnerable patients.

About 88% of NHS trust staff have received two COVID vaccine doses, but in some trusts that falls to 78%.

The six-week consultation process will take views on whether vaccine requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers – those in contact with patients and people receiving care.

Social Care Minister, Helen Whately, said about 90% of care home staff have already been vaccinated and the government was working with care homes to support staff who were hesitant about getting the jab.

When asked if staff would lose their jobs if they did not get vaccinated, she told BBC’s Breakfast that care homes would see if there were alterative roles for them outside the care home. “This is really difficult,” she added.

She said she had spoken to care home residents and their families who said they wanted workers double vaccinated to give them the most protection against COVID.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) Social Care Working Group has advised that the overlap between the sectors makes a strong scientific case for there to be similar approaches to vaccination.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the consultation would focus on the proposals, their scope, and any potential impact mandating vaccines could have on staffing and safety such as reducing staff sickness absence.

Staff, healthcare providers, stakeholders, patients and their families are all being urged to share their view with government with a final decision is expected this winter.

Kat Jenkins

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