Care home workers in England could be legally required to have a Covid-19 vaccination under plans being considered by the government.
Following leaked discussions which emerged from within the Covid O cabinet sub-committee last night (March 22), Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted today that the government is considering implementing mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for care home staff: “Yes, and it’s important because those who look after people in care homes have a duty of care towards them. And not every resident in an elderly care home can be vaccinated.” He said.
One line in the leaked document was alleged to read: ‘The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to vaccinate social care workers against Covid-19 and have agreed, in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients, to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce.’
Speaking about the plans this morning on Sky News the Health Secretary said: ‘As you know, we have a taskforce looking at the question of certification, of whether there’s things that you need to be able to show, that you’ve had a vaccine, or indeed a test, in order to be able to do. ‘That looks both at these questions around international travel, but is also looking at the question of whether, in order to be able to care for people professionally, then you ought to have protected yourself so that you can’t infect others. ‘This is something that happens already. For instance, doctors have to have the hepatitis B vaccine, and it’s clearly something that has important moral questions on both sides. ‘It is something that we’re looking at but no decisions have yet been taken.’
Compulsory vaccinations which would affect 1.5 million workers in England adult social care sector would prove highly controversial and may inevitably lead to legal and human rights challenges, and the probability that a large number of social care workers may decide to leave the sector if forced to have a vaccination.
Whilst in favour of vaccinations for care staff Independent Care Group chairperson Mike Padgham believes that compulsory vaccinations are not the route to follow and says that 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 care provider organisation The Independent Care Group (ICG) says 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: “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 force 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.”