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Compulsory vaccination of UK care workers: plans launched

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The government has made moves towards making Covid-19 vaccinations for care workers mandatory with the launch of a consultation.


The consultation launched on 14 April by the Department of Health and Social Care. It urges that making vaccines a condition of work would help to protect older people living in care homes, who are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19. It notes that some providers are already implementing similar policies.

Experts on the social care working group of SAGE say 80 per cent of staff need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of coronavirus.

Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19. Photograph: iStock

Just over half (53 per cent) of homes in England are currently meeting this threshold. This leaves just less than half, or 150,000 vulnerable people, who are not providing a safe threshold for residents.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group.

"Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives."

He added: "The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to Covid-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe.”

Unite the union national health and safety advisor Rob Miguel said the area is one of ‘great sensitivity’:

“While individuals have an absolute right to choose whether to have the vaccine, Unite is aware that employers could be deemed to act reasonably in certain situations, such as caring for the elderly, to push for employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment.”

He said any measures should take account of reasons why someone might not be able to take the vaccine such as disability, pregnancy, race or religion.

"Affected workers must be given advice, information and support to ensure that any issues or concerns are resolved. For workers who are not able to have the vaccine, other options, such as frequent workplace testing, must be fully considered and utilised. We strongly believe that other options must be made available.”

More information on the government website here

NEWS


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