Compulsory Covid-19 vaccines considered for care home staff, Hancock confirms

14 April 2021, 14:44

Ministers are looking into the possibility of compulsory Covid-19 vaccines for care home staff
Ministers are looking into the possibility of compulsory Covid-19 vaccines for care home staff. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Ministers are looking into the possibility of compulsory Covid-19 vaccines for care home staff, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.

The Health Secretary told the Commons that staff have a 'duty of care' to elderly residents as they are most at risk of dying from the virus.

Department of Health chiefs are to launch a five-week consultation on the proposal soon, it has been confirmed.

Mr Hancock said care industry bosses have called for "no jab, no job" policies and told the house that jabs are "the route out of this pandemic".

SAGE experts have said that 80 per cent of staff and 90 per cent of residents need to be vaccinated in order to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of Covid-19 in care homes.

Currently, only 53 per cent of older adult homes in England are meeting this, meaning that nearly half of all care homes and 150,000 vulnerable people are not meeting SAGE’s recommended threshold.

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Currently the staff vaccination rate is below 80 per cent in 89 local authority areas and all 32 London boroughs.

In 27 local authority areas, staff vaccination rate is below 70 per cent.

Matt Hancock said: “Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group.

“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.

“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.”

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Chair of the Adult Social Care Covid-19 Taskforce, David Pearson said: “I would like to thank all our social care workers for providing care and support during the last very difficult year, for having the vaccine and supporting people who have social care services to be vaccinated.

“It is absolutely vital those who have not yet taken the opportunity to have their vaccine do so to keep themselves and those they care for safe.”

Barchester Healthcare chief executive Dr Pete Calveley said: “Barchester believes the vaccination programme has transformed the outlook for the vulnerable residents in older people care homes, a significant proportion of whom will not acquire full immunity despite being vaccinated.

“We have not lightly introduced our vaccine policy, but we take the view that providing safe care for those we care for is our paramount obligation.

“As the Chief Medical Officer has said, it is a professional duty for care home staff to accept the vaccine unless there is a medical reason they should not.

“As time has progressed, the safety, efficacy and transmission-reduction evidence has become ever stronger, which supports our initial view.

“For those reasons we support the proposal by the DHSC to open a consultation on this important matter and strongly encourage other providers to support this proposal.”