United Kingdom

Nursing centre workers will be told to get a Covid vaccine... or risk losing their job

Care home staff will be forced to have Covid vaccinations, ministers will announce this week.

The controversial measure means 1.5million people working in social care will be told to have the jab within 16 weeks – or face losing their jobs.

It has been introduced following a consultation which concluded it would help protect the most vulnerable in society.

No decision has yet been made on whether vaccination should be made mandatory for the 1.4million who work for the NHS. A separate consultation on that is to be launched.

Ministers are concerned about low take-up of the coronavirus vaccine among care workers, who include care home staff plus home helps. 

A controversial measure to be announced this week means 1.5million people working in social care will be told to have the jab within 16 weeks – or face losing their jobs (stock image)

Despite care workers being among one of the top priority groups for Covid jabs, latest figures show that just two thirds of them have had both doses of the vaccine.

Tens of thousands of care home residents died in the pandemic, largely as a result of infections being brought in by staff during the first wave.

The Daily Mail first revealed in March that the Government was considering making it a legal requirement for NHS and care home staff to have the jab. 

Organisations representing care firms and their staff have warned that the move could backfire and see workers quit rather than agree to have the jab.

The social care sector already faces a workforce shortage as a result of years of underfunding, and an exodus of staff would make it harder to meet the expected upsurge in demand once the pandemic subsides.

The move also raises questions about how care homes treat staff who refuse a mandatory jab, and whether they have to be moved into other roles, and over whether the Government could face a legal challenge.

Later this week ministers will confirm that they are pushing ahead with compulsory vaccination for most of the 1.5million working in social care in England.

On Tuesday night it was claimed that, under the plans, those working with adults will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs. 

Despite care workers being among one of the top priority groups for Covid jabs, latest figures show that just two thirds of them have had both doses of the vaccine

The Government is also keen to make it mandatory for the 1.38million who are directly employed by the NHS in England to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and winter flu. 

The Department of Health and Social Care will in the coming days launch two separate consultation exercises into making Covid and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock believes the arguments in favour of protecting patients from potentially infectious staff now outweigh those that allow health workers the right to choose whether to have either immunisation. 

Latest figures show that, as of June 6, 89 per cent of NHS staff had had their first dose of Covid vaccine and 82 per cent had had both. 

Some 83.7 per cent of staff in adult care homes had received at least one dose by June 6 and 68.7 per cent had been double-jabbed.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, warned that while it wants all NHS staff to get jabbed, 'compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks'. 

The health department 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. We will publish our response [to the consultation] in due course.'

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