UK may Mandatorily Vaccinate all NHS staff against CV19

 

 

Covid vaccinations are to become mandatory for care home staff under plans to be announced by ministers, as they consider extending the move to all NHS staff.

The controversial measure sets up a likely battle with staff in both services and could lead to the government being sued under European human rights law or equalities legislation for breaching the freedom of people who work in caring roles to decide what they put into their bodies.

The Guardian understands that ministers will confirm they are pushing ahead with compulsory vaccination for most of the 1.5 million people working in social care in England, despite employer and staff organisations in the sector warning that it could backfire if workers quit rather than get immunised. Under the plans those working with adults will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.

The government is also keen to make it mandatory for the 1.38 million people who are directly employed by the NHS in England to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and winter flu – proposals that have already been criticised by groups representing doctors, nurses and other staff.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will in the coming days launch two separate consultation exercises into making Covid and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff. But ministers including the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, believe the arguments in favour of protecting patients from potentially infectious staff now outweigh those that allow health workers the right to choose whether or not to have either immunisation.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, warned on Tuesday that while they want all NHS staff to get jabbed, “compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks”.

“While some healthcare workers are already required to be immunised against certain conditions to work in certain areas, any specific proposal for the compulsory requirement for all staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 would raise new ethical and legal implications,” it said. Staff in some areas, such as surgery, are already obliged to get vaccinated against hepatitis B, for example.

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