Speaking on the Today Programme, health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: ‘Well that sort of approach is already in place for doctors, they have to have the hepatitis B vaccine, and so there’s already a clear precedent and there’s a duty of care that people have if you work in an elderly care home.
‘After all residents of elderly care homes that are the most vulnerable of all to covid. But there are important moral questions on both sides there’d be a change in the law required, and so this is something that we’re considering but we haven’t made a final decision on, and we do want to hear from care homes and indeed care home staff, on this question.’
However, care providers say the government needs to work harder to persuade care staff on the benefits of having the Covid-19 vaccine rather than making it compulsory.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said it would prefer people to have the vaccine voluntarily and it is worried such a rule might put people off from joining the sector.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham, said: ‘It is vital that care workers have the vaccine because of the vulnerable people they are looking after and I can understand the temptation to make it compulsory.
‘But I have always been of the belief that we cannot force someone to have an injection and it should be voluntary. We have to remember people’s human rights as we live in a free society.
‘I think rather than forcing it through legislation, the Government has more work to do in terms of persuading everyone, not just care workers, about how important it is that the whole country has the vaccine so that we are all protected.
‘There are already 120,000 vacancies in the care sector, we don’t need to put anything else in the way that might prevent people from joining our rewarding profession.’
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