Health and social care providers in England will be required to ensure workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Government has announced.
The majority of NHS workers are already vaccinated, as over 92.8% have had their first dose and 89.9% have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. In social care, 83.7% of domiciliary care workers have had their first dose and 74.6% have had both doses. However, over 103,000 NHS Trust workers and 105,000 domiciliary care workers have not been reported as fully vaccinated.
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‘Vaccines save lives and patient safety is paramount. Many of the people being treated in hospitals or cared for at home are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. We have a responsibility to give patients and staff the best possible protection,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.
‘We have consulted closely with the sector and will introduce new regulations to ensure people working in healthcare are vaccinated from next spring. I want thank everyone who works in health and social care for the amazing work they do. If you haven’t come forward for your jab yet, please do so. We are determined to support you in this process.’
The requirements will come into force in the spring, subject to the passage of the regulations through Parliament. There will be a 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force to allow those who have not yet been vaccinated to have both doses. Enforcement would begin from 1 April, subject to parliamentary approval.
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‘The vast majority of NHS nursing staff received the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it was offered, having led the vaccination roll out across the UK and continuing to do so with the booster programme,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.
‘With the five months until this decision takes effect, the government and employers must continue to engage with the small minority who have chosen not to have the vaccine. This is vital to understanding their concerns, supporting them to understand the importance of the vaccine and to make that important choice.’