Covid vaccines will become mandatory for all NHS and care home workers in England under new plans to be announced by ministers, reports claim.

Care home workers will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face the sack, according to The Guardian.

The Government is said to be considering extending the move to include all NHS staff, as legally imposing the restriction on care workers only would be ‘inconsistent’.

Meanwhile, The Times claims Boris Johnson has backed the plan to make them compulsory for all health service workers, with the Government set to ‘open a consultation’ on Thursday.

Flu jabs could also be made compulsory, despite numerous medical boards warning against mandatory vaccines and threats of legal action against the Government.

Ministers, including health secretary Matt Hancock, are said to believe protecting patients from potentially contagious staff is more important than giving health workers a choice. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) didn’t deny the story when approached.

It comes despite 83.7% of England’s 1.5 million staff working in adult care homes receiving at least one dose by 6 June, and 68.7% being double-jabbed.

Figures show 89% of the 1.38 million NHS England staff had their first dose and 82% had both by the same date.

A study by The BMJ in February found jab rates among ethnic minority doctors and healthcare staff were significantly lower than rates among white staff.

NHS staff are already required to get the Hepatitis B vaccine – but this rule is in guidance rather than law.

The British Medical Association has cautioned that ‘compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks’.

Meanwhile, the NHS Confederation has warned hospital bosses are ‘unlikely to welcome’ the decision.

The Royal College of Nursing has also previously expressed hostility to the idea, with CEO Dame Donna Kinnair saying ’it’s essential that staff have the opportunity to fully understand and have autonomy over what goes into their bodies’.

The UK’s human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has however insisted the move is ‘reasonable’.

It has advised that safeguards be included to minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions, including for workers who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

On consulting on the NHS, Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Andrew Marr at the end of May: ‘I think it’s important that we ask ourselves the question, just the way we’ve been talking about the most vulnerable, those residents of care homes and how we protect them if they get infected with Covid, or even, dare I say, with flu, because they’re so fragile they can die.

‘So it’s right for – we’ve just consulted with the social care work force around the condition of deployment and having to be vaccinated.

‘One of the things that’s coming through is that maybe the whole of the care and healthcare system should be looking at – including the NHS.

‘It would be irresponsible of us as a Government and ministers not to ask that question, not to think about it and consider it, because clearly people being infected in hospital through covid or, dare I say in, in other years in flu, people who are very fragile.’

A DHSC spokeswoman told Metro.co.uk: ‘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’.

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