• Monday, November 28, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Mandatory Covid, flu jabs for health staff being considered in England

Around 77,000 NHS staff have had no jab at all. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

THE government is seeking plans for frontline staff in healthcare settings in England, who may be required to have Covid-19 and flu vaccines to protect patients from infection, serious illness or death.

A six-week consultation was launched on Thursday (9), looking at whether requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers – those who come 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 healthcare workers.

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.

While the 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.

Health 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.”

The government recently consulted on making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for staff working the adult social care sector. To protect care home residents, workers will now need to be double jabbed as a condition of deployment in CQC-regulated care homes in England by 11 November, unless exempt.

The Covid-19 vaccine has already had a significant impact on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, with Public Health England estimating that over 112,000 lives have been saved so far.

The Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised this winter will be the first in the UK when SARS-CoV-2 is expected to co-circulate alongside other respiratory viruses such as flu. This could significantly contribute to the NHS’s winter pressures, with more vulnerable people expected to be admitted into hospital over the coming months.

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