Government launches consultation on mandatory jabs for care home workers

The government is considering making coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for care home workers looking after older adults amid calls for stronger rules from some in the sector.

As part of a five-week consultation, launched on 14th April 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care will look at requiring care home providers to only deploy workers who have received their Covid jab.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said making vaccines a condition of deployment was “something many care homes have called for” and that “we have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to Covid-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe”.

According to social care working group SAGE, 80 per cent of staff and 90 per cent of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of coronavirus. However, the figures suggest only 53 per cent of older adult homes in England are currently meeting this threshold.

It is a professional duty for care home staff to accept the vaccine unless there is a medical reason they should not,” he added.

However, experts critical of mandatory vaccinations warn that such policies could damage employee relations and potentially leave employers open to legal challenges. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, branded the consultation as “ill-thought through” and “a further blow to care workers’ morale”.

“We all want to get as many care workers vaccinated as possible; forcing workers to get the jab will harm trust and employee relations,” O’Grady said, adding that ministers should instead strongly encourage every care worker to get vaccinated and make it as easy as possible. This could mean giving paid time off for appointments and guaranteeing sick pay for any recovery time afterwards. 

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