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Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for front-line nurses ‘highly likely’, says Javid

Unions warn move would contradict WHO advice and could worsen staff shortages

Unions warn move would contradict WHO advice and could worsen staff shortages

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has said it is ‘highly likely’ COVID-19 vaccinations will be made mandatory for front-line NHS staff.

Mr Javid made the comments in the House of Commons on Tuesday as he set out plans for tackling the pandemic over autumn and winter.

Final decision will be made after six-week consultation

Earlier in Sptember, the government launched a six-week consultation on whether COVID-19 and flu vaccinations should be mandatory for all front-line staff in England. The consultation closes on 22 October.

It has already been decided

Unions warn move would contradict WHO advice and could worsen staff shortages

Photograph of a nurse receiving a vaccination
Picture: Tim George

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has said it is ‘highly likely’ COVID-19 vaccinations will be made mandatory for front-line NHS staff.

Mr Javid made the comments in the House of Commons on Tuesday as he set out plans for tackling the pandemic over autumn and winter.

Final decision will be made after six-week consultation

Earlier in Sptember, the government launched a six-week consultation on whether COVID-19 and flu vaccinations should be mandatory for all front-line staff in England. The consultation closes on 22 October.

It has already been decided that staff working in registered care homes in England must be vaccinated against COVID-19 from 11 November, unless medically exempt.

Mr Javid said: ‘Although we are keeping an open mind and will not be making a final decision until we fully consider the results of the consultation, it is highly likely that front-line NHS staff and those working in wider social care settings will also have to be vaccinated.’

He said the intention would be to protect those who are in contact with staff and are at the greatest risk of serious complications of COVID-19.

The health secretary also confirmed healthcare staff would be offered a COVID-19 booster jab.

Move would contradict advice on ‘encouragement, not compulsion’

Unions have voiced concerns over mandatory vaccination, warning the policy could alienate people and exacerbate current staffing shortages.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: ‘Unite strongly opposes forcing any health and social care workers to have a vaccine or risk sacrificing their job. Encouragement, not compulsion, is the advice of the World Health Organization for the good reason that such an approach is shown to work.’

The RCN has also expressed disquiet at the idea of compulsory vaccination.

RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said: ‘The focus should be on communicating the benefits of vaccination rather than making them mandatory.’

Some trusts have already started to redeploy staff who decline the COVID-19 vaccine.

NHS England guidance issued in March this year said trusts can consider moving staff who do not wish to be vaccinated to a ‘less exposure-prone setting’.


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