Ministers are reportedly preparing to announce that care home workers in England will be required to have mandatory Covid vaccines.
A consultation into the controversial proposal has been held by the Government, with officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) not denying a report by the Guardian which said ministers will approve the measure to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus.
The potential move follows a consultation by the DHSC which was launched in April.
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This was two months after the Government said it had met its target of offering all frontline care workers a first dose of a vaccine by mid-February.
As it started it’s consultation in April, the DHSC said that 47 per cent of English care homes for older people had more than a fifth of staff who had yet to take up the vaccine, despite staff at all eligible care homes having been offered vaccines.
The DHSC’s response to the consultation is set to be published “in due course”.
'Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic'
A spokeswoman for the DHSC said: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.
“Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a Covid-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption.”
Although multiple care groups and unions have raised concerns about mandatory vaccination and critics have raised ethical queries, the UK’s human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has concluded it is “reasonable” to legally require care home staff to be vaccinated.
However, it did advise that safeguards should be included in order to minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions including for staff who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.