The Government have officially announced today that they are consulting on mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for care home staff in England. The Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
“The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. 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.”
He also stated: “Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19…making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives.”
There has been a mixed response from care providers to the proposed requirement. While some have called for mandatory vaccinations to protect residents, others have raised concerns of knock-on impacts such as a worsening of existing staff shortages and care home owners being exposed to the possibility of legal challenges.
The recent announcement, while not out of the blue, contradicts a previous statement made in February by the prime minister’s official spokesperson who said “taking a vaccine is not mandatory and it would be discriminatory to force somebody to take one.” Ridouts’ Anna-Maria Lemmer recently considered the issue of mandatory vaccinations and her article on the topic can be found here.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the consultation will last for 5 weeks and will be published on GOV.UK. Ridouts will report once the consultation has launched and providers should ensure they respond if they want their voices heard.