'Only right' to consider if NHS staff should be compelled to get vaccine - minister

30 May 2021, 11:12 | Updated: 30 May 2021, 17:37

By Will Taylor

It is "only right" to look into whether NHS and social care staff should be compelled to take a Covid vaccine, a minister has said.

Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, said if staff are going to deal with vulnerable patients it might become policy to insist they get a jab.

The vaccine has been voluntary though take up is very high in the UK. Mr Zahawi said no decision has been made yet.

He told LBC's Tom Swarbrick: "It's only right that we look at people's duty of care… if you're looking after the most vulnerable people in our society.

"And there's a precedent for this of course, surgeons have to take a hepatitis B vaccine to practice their surgery.

"We should at least ask the question, because if people are being infected in the hospital or in a care home by those who are looking after or tasked to look after that we should at least… ask the question of the system to say should we be doing this."

Read more: Half of people in their 30s take up vaccine in England over just two weeks

Read more: Matt Hancock did not ask experts to consider vaccinating children 'until recently'

A vaccine has not yet been made compulsory to NHS or care staff
A vaccine has not yet been made compulsory to NHS or care staff. Picture: PA

The Government is looking at feedback from a consultation with the social care sector, and stressed it would be a "condition of deployment" rather than a "condition of employment".

"If you're deployed to come to close contact with very vulnerable very fragile, elderly people, whether in hospital or in a care home, you should be thinking about that sort of duty of care that you have to your patient," Mr Zahawi said.

"And that's where we're at and we're asking ourselves that question around COVID of course. And of course, flu as well."