Experts express concern over compulsory vaccines for care home workers
Employers in the sector could struggle to enforce a vaccine mandate, commentators say, and caution other organisations against following suit.
Covid-19 vaccinations are set to become compulsory for care home staff in England as part of new legislation announced by the government yesterday.
Under the new rules, from October this year anyone working in a care home where residents need nursing or personal care will need to have had two doses of a Covid vaccine.
This will apply to all workers employed by the care home, agency workers, volunteers, and anyone coming into the care home to do work, unless they are medically exempt.
The legislation is still subject to parliamentary approval, and there will be a 16-week grace period from when the new law comes into effect.
The government has said it would also consult on whether to extend the vaccination mandate beyond care homes to cover care workers who work with other vulnerable groups.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have a responsibility to do all we can to safeguard those receiving care including in the NHS and so will be consulting further on whether to extend to other health and social care workers.
This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future. I’d urge anyone working in care homes to get their jab as soon as possible.”
However, while a vaccination mandate would lower the risk of the virus in care homes but such a requirement wasn’t straightforward. The worry for the care sector is the impact this might have on recruitment and staff retention, given that there is already a shortage of staff in this sector.
The detail of how this is to be implemented remains to be seen but this unprecedented move could prove unpopular with care staff who do not wish to have the vaccine.