Government considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for nurses working in care homes

RCN says nurses must be supported in making an informed choice about vaccination 

RCN says nursing staff must be supported in making an informed choice about vaccination

A woman receives the first of two Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine jabs at a vaccination centre in Cardiff, Wales
Picture: Alamy

Nurses who work in care homes could be legally required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under plans being considered by the government, according to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Hancock said that although ‘no final decision’ has been taken amid a review into so-called vaccination passports, he confirmed that ministers were looking at vaccines being made compulsory for care home staff.

Talking about the proposal, Mr Hancock said: ‘No decision has been taken, but it is something that we are looking at.

‘People who are looking after elderly residents in care homes, who we know to be the most vulnerable to COVID, have a duty of care not to pass on the disease and it is a reasonable question.’

Nurses voice concerns on Nursing Standard’s Facebook page

Mr Hancock said that currently, only staff working in homes for older people were being considered. But a document leaked to the Daily Telegraph suggested a requirement was being considered for other social care staff.

The proposal prompted a reaction from nursing staff, who took to Nursing Standard’s Facebook page to voice their views about the move.

One nurse said: ‘It is absolutely shocking. No one should have a forced vaccine, whoever they are and wherever they work. Being vaccinated does not stop you catching it or passing it on. It should be personal choice.’

Another added: ‘And where does it end? NHS staff next, then everyone else being forced?

The government has provided guidance to employers to encourage uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine among front-line staff.

More needs to be done to support health and care staff with vaccine uptake

RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said the college encourages all nurses no matter where they work to have the vaccine, but that all health and care staff must be supported in making an informed choice about vaccination.

‘The Nursing and Midwifery Council code of conduct says that nursing staff must take measures to protect their patients and the public against serious illness,’ she said.

‘However, more needs to be done to support health and care staff to get the vaccination. Making the vaccine easily available and providing support to staff to address their concerns is the best way to increase the uptake and promote staff health.’

She added: ‘A recent RCN survey found those working outside of the NHS, including those in care homes still faced barriers to receiving the vaccination with some not yet offered their first jab.’

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