U.K. to Force Care Home Staff to Have Covid-19 Vaccine

Care home workers in England will be required to have a Covid-19 vaccination or risk losing their jobs.

New legislation will require people working in Care Quality Commission-accredited care homes to be fully vaccinated with two doses from October, the Department for Health and Social Care said on Wednesday in a statement. The measure won’t apply to those who are medically exempt, and is subject to Parliamentary approval, it said. There will also be a 16-week grace period.

The move marks the first time Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made Covid-19 injections mandatory and could provoke push back. The GMB union, which represents around 100,000 care home workers, claimed more than a third of their members working as carers would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations become compulsory.

Research published last month by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found Black African and mixed Black African staff are almost twice as likely to decline a vaccination as White British and White Irish participants, citing distrust in the vaccines themselves, healthcare providers and the authorities.

The requirement follows a consultation designed to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19. Ministers argue that testing would not be adequate to protect care home residents who are elderly or unwell. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland oversee their own health policy.

“Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritized and the majority are now vaccinated, we need to do everything we can to keep reducing the risk,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the statement. “This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future.”

Hancock came under fire again Wednesday from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former chief aide, Dominic Cummings, who released messages showing Johnson had dubbed Hancock “hopeless” in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

The requirement will apply to all workers employed directly by the care home or care home provider, those employed by an agency and volunteers, the Department for Health and Social Care said in a statement.

People coming into care homes to work, such as tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians must also follow the regulations, unless they have a medical exemption, the department said.

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