The government is seeking views on plans for staff in health and care settings in England to be required to have Covid-19 and flu vaccines to protect vulnerable people.
Health bosses have launched a six-week consultation looking at whether requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers; those in contact with patients and people receiving care.
It would mean only those who have completed a full course of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services.
The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers. This consultation follows the five-week consultation launched on April 14 for residential adult social care settings, which has subsequently been enacted and comes into force on 11 November.
This comes after campaigners warned ministers were ‘sleepwalking into a disaster’ by failing to act as the mandatory vaccination rule pushed thousands to the brink of quitting care work.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19, and we must do what we can to protect them.
‘It’s so clear to see the impact vaccines have against respiratory viruses which can be fatal to the vulnerable, and that’s why we’re exploring mandatory vaccines for both Covid-19 and flu.
‘We will consider the responses to the consultation carefully but, whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated – for their own health as well as those around them.’
is pleased that the Department of Health and Social Care has listened to the sector and launched the wider consultation on making the Covid-19 and flu vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline workers in health and wider care settings.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, welcomed the consultation.
‘We are pleased that the Department has finally launched this consultation. This was something promised ‘within the coming weeks’ when the Government response to the consultation on residential adult social care services was published in July.
‘The delay in the publication of today’s consultation has heavily impacted recruitment and retention within the adult social care sector, with residential care staff transferring over to home care or the NHS.
‘Earlier this week Care England wrote to Minister of State for Social Care to emphasise our serious and growing concern in relation to the absence of this consultation and we are pleased that our concerns have been listened to.
‘The consultation represents a small step towards creating a level playing field between the NHS and social care. We hope this will help alleviate some of the workforce pressures rife within the sector induced as a result of residential care settings having been singled out initially.
‘However, despite the launch of the consultation, there still remain unanswered questions, such as where Covid-19 boosters fit into the picture, as well as an absence of central guidance around exemptions.’
Photo Credit – Towfiqu barbhuiya