By Deirdre Tynan • 09 September 2021 • 9:55
NHS faces losing 73,000 staff over mandatory Covid jabs
A consultation will be launched on protecting patients by mandating vaccination for frontline health and social care staff in England.
The government is seeking views on plans for staff in health and care settings in England to be required to have Covid-19 and flu vaccines to protect vulnerable people.
A six-week consultation will be launched on September 9, looking at whether requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers: those in contact with patients and people receiving care. It would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services. The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.
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.
“It’s so clear to see the impact vaccines have against respiratory viruses which can be fatal to the vulnerable, and that’s why we’re exploring mandatory vaccines for both Covid-19 and flu.
“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,” he added.
There is a longstanding precedent for vaccination requirements in NHS roles. Workplace health and safety and occupational health policies are already in place requiring the Hepatitis B vaccine for those undertaking exposure-prone procedure such as surgeons.
The percentage of NHS trust staff who have received one dose of a Covid vaccine is around 92 per cent nationally, with 88 per cent of staff having received both doses. However, there is variation in uptake with new due data due to be published today showing that between NHS trusts, uptake rates can vary from around 78 per cent to 94 per cent for both doses.
National flu vaccination rates in the health service have increased from 14 per cent in 2002 to 76 per cent last year. In some settings, however, rates are as low as 53 per cent.
Flu vaccination has been recommended for staff and vulnerable groups in the UK since the late 1960s, with the average number of estimated deaths in England for the five seasons 2015 to 2020 at over 11,000 deaths annually. During the 2019/2020 winter season, 86 per cent of deaths associated with flu were people aged 65 and over.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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