Covid-19 vaccinations will be made mandatory for all frontline health staff in England – including nurses in general practice and the community – by next spring, according to a reported Government leak.
A spring deadline has been set to allow unvaccinated staff to receive both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the BBC today.
The upcoming announcement, expected later today, follows a six-week consultation launched in September looking at whether to make both flu and Covid-19 vaccinations ‘a condition of deployment’ for frontline health workers in order to protect patients.
However, the BBC reports that the flu jab will not be made mandatory. There will also be medical exemptions available for the Covid-19 vaccinations.
The news comes despite pleas for caution from nursing and healthcare groups.
The RCN warned last week that healthcare staff refusing to be vaccinated against Covid need to be supported and educated by nurse experts rather than being forced into receiving the jabs. It said mandatory vaccines could risk ‘creating division where there should be conversation instead’.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson also told BBC Breakfast last week that 90% of Trust leaders are ‘concerned about the potential for additional staffing gaps’ if vaccines become compulsory and the ‘Government must recognise the risk of losing unvaccinated frontline staff’.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told Nursing in Practice sister publication Pulse that it will set out its response to the consultation in ‘due course’.
It added: ‘Vaccines are safe and effective and almost four in five people in the UK have already had both jabs to protect themselves against Covid-19. It’s never too late to take up the offer and we would urge everyone who is eligible to come forward as we head into the winter months.’
This comes ahead of the deadline this Thursday for care home staff in England to be vaccinated, although this has sparked fears of workforce shortages.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not made any proposals to make Covid jabs compulsory for NHS workers or care home staff.