The Government has launched a consultation process on making COVID-19 and flu vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline workers in health and care settings.
Plans are already in place to make it mandatory for care home workers in England to be double jabbed by 11 November , unless exempt.
There are fears that making the vaccinations compulsory for both COVID-19 and flu could lead to staffing shortages.
The consultation will consider three risks in clinical settings and how they can be mitigated by vaccination:
It will take place over a six-week period and staff, healthcare providers, patients and their families are all being urged to share their views.
So far 92 per cent of NHS staff have had their first dose and 88 per cent both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and ministers are urging the remainder to take up the offer now to keep themselves and those they care for safe.
Some unions, including the Royal College of Nursing, have warned that making the jabs mandatory could lead to staff shortages.
Helen Donovan, Royal College of Nursing Professional Lead for Public Health, said: “All nursing staff should have any vaccine deemed necessary to help protect themselves, patients, colleagues, family members, and the wider community. This has always included the flu vaccine and more recently the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We do, however, have concerns around mandating vaccines and whether this will ultimately improve uptake. The focus should be on communicating the benefits of vaccination rather than making them mandatory.
“Involving staff in this consultation will help them to become further involved in the decision making and it is vital their views are properly taken into account over the next steps.”
This winter will be the first in the UK when COVID-19 could be circulating with other respiratory viruses like the flu. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says this could significantly contribute to the NHS’s winter pressures, with more vulnerable people expected to be admitted into hospital over the coming months.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of COVID-19, and we must do what we can to protect them.
“We will consider the responses to the consultation carefully but, whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated – for their own health as well as those around them.”
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