Editorial

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, should nurses have a choice?

Concerns should be treated sensitively, but nurses have a duty to protect older people

Concerns about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination should be treated sensitively, but nurses have a duty to protect older people in their care

Coronavirus vaccination and whether it should be compulsory for nurses is emerging as a contentious issue but it is one that must be explored and resolved.

A government consultation on plans to

Concerns about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination should be treated sensitively, but nurses have a duty to protect older people in their care

Coronavirus vaccination and whether it should be compulsory for nurses is emerging as a contentious issue but it is one that must be explored and resolved
Picture: Alamy

Coronavirus vaccination and whether it should be compulsory for nurses is emerging as a contentious issue but it is one that must be explored and resolved.

A government consultation on plans to make vaccination against COVID-19 a legal requirement for nurses who work in care homes for older people in England closes on 21 May. A decision is expected in the summer.

Many of us have worked through the 2020-21 pandemic caring directly for older people who have lived and died with this virus, and, sadly, some nurses have suffered from it.

COVID-19 vaccination is likely to have prevented much of this suffering for older people and nurses. Why then is the issue of mandatory vaccination contentious?

Responsibilities of nurses caring for older people

Our roles and responsibilities as nurses caring for older people living with frailty in care homes, community and hospital settings during the pandemic have been clear. Caring for people with infectious diseases has always been part of the job, and one that we have undertaken willingly.

We have accepted the protection of vaccinations, such as that for hepatitis B, and infection prevention and control precautions.

Concerns about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination need to be recognised and treated with sensitivity, with options for individuals for whom the vaccination might be contraindicated. But ultimately, evidence and objectivity must be the order of the day, and people must be appropriately protected.

What kind of message does it give out if individuals are potentially fit for vaccination, but decline it? This question is at the heart of the debate and one that we all need to ask ourselves.


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