Health Secretary Sajid Javid has requested a review into mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for all health and social care staff.
As it stands, all health and social care staff are required by law to receive at least two Covid-19 jabs before 1 April or they risk being redeployed in non-patient-facing roles or dismissed from their jobs without severance pay.
Tomorrow, Thursday 3 February, is the deadline for all frontline NHS staff and care workers to receive their first vaccine, to be fully vaccinated by the 1 April deadline.
Factcheck data shows that as of the middle of January, around 80,00 NHS workers have yet to receive a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with around 52,000 people are not thought to have a medical exemption meaning that around 3.5% of staff who work with patients may risk losing their jobs.
The vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD) requirements includes front-line workers, as well as non-clinical workers not directly involved in patient care but who may have face to face contact with patients, including ancillary staff such as porters, cleaners, or receptionists.
The requirement will not apply to those who are under the age of 18, are medically exempt have participated in a clinical Covid-19 trial and are pregnant and have a temporary exemption which will be valid until they are 16 works post post-birth.
Speaking at the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Javid said it “is only right that our policy on vaccination as a condition for deployment is reviewed.”
The health minister has asked the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and England’s Chief Medical Officer for “fresh advice” in “weighing up the risks and opportunities of this policy once again”, as there are two new factors.
He said: “The first is that our population as a whole is now better protected against hospitalisation from Covid-19. Omicron’s increased infectiousness meant that at the peak of the recent winter spike, 1 in 15 people had a COVID-19 infection, according to the ONS.”
Mr Javid added: “The second factor is that the dominant variant – Omicron – is intrinsically less severe.
“When taken together with the first factor – that we now have greater population protection – the evidence shows that the risk of presentation to emergency care or hospital admission with Omicron is approximately half of that for Delta.
“Given these dramatic changes, it is not only right but responsible to revisit the balance of risks and opportunities that guided our original decision last year.”
Since late November, it has been a legal requirement for all care home staff to be vaccinated.
A representative for Bradford Council said, “Care home providers have already got 100% vaccination rates following the SOC1 legislation that came into effect last November.”
A representative of the Department of Health and social care said: “While the legal requirement on deployment is set to be revoked, those working in health and social care still have a professional duty to get vaccinated and Get Boosted Now.
“Since the consultation on health and wider social care staff was announced in September more than 127,000 NHS staff came forward for a vaccine and 95% have now had at least one dose.”
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