The main focus of 2021 in tackling COVID-19 has been the vaccination programme. At the start of the year, we all anticipated the COVID-19 vaccination becoming mandatory. It became a reality on 11 November 2021 when the COVID-19 vaccination became mandatory for anyone entering a care home in a work capacity.
In my latest article on vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD), I explained the self-certification medical exemption that was introduced in September 2021. Since then, care home workers have been able to use a government form to self-certify as being medically exempt from having the COVID-19 vaccination.
It has always been intended that self-certification would be temporary and would end on 24 December 2021, and by that date anyone medically exempt should have obtained a formal medical exemption. The formal medical exemption involves each application being clinically reviewed by a doctor, specialist clinician or midwife and the results should be posted two to three weeks after applying.
It appears that due to delays in processing applications, care home workers now have until 31 March 2022 to secure formal proof of their medical exemption. However, note that the extension only applies to those whose NHS Covid Pass medical exemption forms have been submitted and received before 24 December 2021.
Essentially, care home workers can continue to self-certify as exempt from having the COVID-19 vaccination between 24 December 2021 and 31 March 2022 whilst they await the outcome of their application. From 1 April 2022, they will either need to show proof of a formal clinically reviewed medical exemption or be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue to work in a CQC-regulated care home.