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Vaccines to become compulsory for care home staff

View profile for Reggie Lloyd
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Vaccines to become compulsory for care home staff

There have been more than 40,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the care sector in England and it has been reported that the Government will announce, in the next few days, that COVID-19 vaccinations will be compulsory for staff in care homes for elderly people in England.

The government said it had met its target of offering all frontline care workers a first dose of a vaccine by mid-February. Efforts have been made to convince staff of the need to get vaccinated, there have been advertising campaigns targeting them, webinars held by health leaders and repeat visits made to homes by vaccination teams. 

However, in 47% of English care homes 20% of staff had not been vaccinated despite care homes having had repeat visits by vaccine teams. People working in the care sector said there were cultural reasons, concerns about safety and its impact on fertility because of the number of young women that are employed.

What is expected of care homes?

It is expected that care home staff will be given 16 weeks to have a vaccination, if they don’t they could be dismissed if they cannot be redeployed. There are expected to be medical exemptions but there is no indication, currently, about whether there will be exemptions for other reasons, including those mentioned above.

The care industry has complained about compulsory vaccination because care homes have always found it difficult to recruit staff and this rule (and Brexit) may mean there will be a shortage of staff to work in the care industry.

The Government says that the vulnerabilities of residents and the closed environments they live in require compulsory vaccination. If this is introduced, it is likely that there will be legal challenges based on individual human rights. 

A recent case suggests the measure might be lawful, however. A compulsory vaccination scheme of children in the Czech Republic was recently found to be lawful. We will be watching out for further details and provide a further update once these details are known.

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