Covid vaccine to be required for England care home staff
Business / Wed 16th Jun 2021 at 06:18am
COVID vaccinations are to become compulsory for staff in care homes for older people in England, the BBC has been told.
Care staff are expected to be given 16 weeks to have the jab – or face being redeployed away from frontline care, or lose their jobs.
The move, first reported in the Guardian, is expected to be announced by the government in the next few days.
Consultations will begin on the same rule for other health and care staff.
Care organisations have warned that compulsory vaccinations could cause significant difficulties in a sector that already struggles to recruit enough people.
The government, however, is believed to have considerable concerns about low take-up of the vaccine in some areas, including London.
A Whitehall source told the BBC: “These moves would save lives and there is precedent with the Hepatitis B vaccine guidance for doctors.”
Workers who can prove they are medically exempt from getting the vaccine will not be affected by the new measure.
The move follows a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
That consultation was launched in April, two months after the government said it had met its target of offering all frontline care workers a first dose of a vaccine by mid-February.
The department said in April as it started the consultation that 47% of English care homes for older people had more than a fifth of staff who had yet to take up the vaccine.
It said that this was despite staff at all eligible care homes having been offered vaccines, with the vast majority of homes having had repeat visits by vaccine teams.
A DHSC spokeswoman said the department’s response to the consultation would be published “in due course”.
She 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.”
In the care sector in England there have been more than 40,000 deaths involving Covid.
Meanwhile, nearly 42 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a vaccine so far, and just over 30 million have had their second.
People aged 23 and over can now book their jab in England, while the target to offer all adults a first dose has been brought forward to 19 July.
On Tuesday, a further 10 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported in the UK, and 7,673 more cases.