Ministers ‘will make Covid vaccines compulsory for care home staff’

‘Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic’ says the government

Sam Blewett,Ashley Cowburn
Wednesday 16 June 2021 11:45

Related video: WHO steps up call for Covid-19 vaccine sharing

Ministers are reportedly preparing to announce that care home workers will be required to have mandatory coronavirus vaccines.

The Government has held a consultation into the controversial proposal as a measure to protect the most vulnerable from contracting Covid-19.

Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) did not deny a report by the Guardian saying that ministers will approve the measure for social care workers in England.

Under the plans, staff working with adults will be given 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs, according to the newspaper.

A DHSC spokeswoman said: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives - with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.

“Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a Covid-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption.”

She added that the department’s response to the consultation will be published “in due course”.

Speaking on Sky News, the cabinet minister Liz Truss declined to be drawn to whether the government has decided to make vaccinations for care home staff mandatory, saying on Wednesday: “We are currently consulting on this issue.What we do know is that it’s incredibly important that staff in care homes are vaccinated.

“We have got a hugely vulnerable population in our care homes and making sure that staff are vaccinated is a priority.”

Asked what her position would be if she had a parent in a home, Ms Truss said: “I would want the staff to be vaccinated, of course I would, because I would want my parent to be protected.”

However, multiple care groups and unions have raised concerns about mandatory vaccination and critics of the proposal have raised ethical queries and have warned that compulsion could harden opposition in those who are hesitant to be vaccinated.

The UK’s human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has however concluded it is “reasonable” to legally require care home staff to be vaccinated.

But it did advise that safeguards should be included to minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions including for staff who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Considerations are ongoing over whether to extend the measure to NHS staff.

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