Mandatory Covid jabs for NHS and social care staff scrapped in Govt U-turn

1 March 2022, 16:36 | Updated: 1 March 2022, 17:51

Sajid Javid has announced the Government is scrapping mandatory vaccines
Sajid Javid has announced the Government is scrapping mandatory vaccines. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Mandatory Covid vaccinations for NHS and social care staff are to be scrapped in a dramatic U-turn by the Government.

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The mandate will be revoked on March 15, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed today.

The Government previously announced it was opening a two-week consultation into the policy.

But now Mr Javid has officially announced the plans will be scrapped - meaning NHS staff no longer need to be vaccinated by April 1, and care home staff who lost their jobs as a result of the policy will be able to work once more.

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In a written statement, Mr Javid said he had previously made it "clear that vaccination as a condition of deployment was the right policy when the original decision was taken", but said it was "no longer proportionate" given the apparent mildness of the Omicron variant of Covid.

He then said: "I have concluded that it is right and proportionate to proceed with revocation of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment in all health and social care settings."

But he added that despite the change, he still considers it "a professional responsibility for health and care staff, and others who work in the health and social care sectors, to be vaccinated".

Mandatory Covid-19 vaccines came into force for care home staff in November last year, and were due to be introduced for frontline NHS and wider social care staff in regulated settings from April 1.

Speaking on January 31, when he announced the consultation into dropping the plans, Mr Javid defended the policy but again said it was "no longer proportionate" given the apparent mildness of the Omicron variant of Covid.

"While vaccination remains our very best line of defence against Covid-19, I believe that it is no longer proportionate to require vaccination as a condition of deployment through statute," he told the House of Commons.

"So I'm announcing that we will launch a consultation on ending vaccination as a condition of deployment in health and all social care sectors.

"Subject to the responses and the will of this House, the Government will revert the regulations."

The Government said on Tuesday that 90 per cent of the 90,000 responses to the consultation - which was launched in early February - supported the removal of the legal requirement for health and social care staff to be double jabbed.

Mr Javid said 92 per cent of the NHS workforce and 95 per cent of care home staff have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 89 per cent of home or domiciliary care staff have so far received at least one dose.

He said the Government is "committed to working with the health and social care sectors to engage with those who are yet to make the positive choice to be vaccinated".