- Launch today of a consultation to make vaccination a condition for the deployment of frontline workers in health and care establishments
- Staff may be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza to protect patients from infection, serious illness or death
- 92% of NHS staff have received their first dose and 88% both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and ministers are urging others to accept the offer now to ensure their safety and that of their loved ones.
The government is seeking advice on plans to require staff at health and care facilities in England to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu to protect vulnerable people.
A six-week consultation will be launched today, to determine whether requirements should apply to healthcare workers and social workers at large: those who come into contact with patients and those receiving care. This would mean that only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to provide health and care services. The consultation will also seek views on whether influenza vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.
There is a long-standing precedent for immunization requirements in NHS roles. Occupational health and safety and occupational health policies are already in place that require hepatitis B vaccine for people undertaking a procedure at risk of exposure, such as surgeons.
The percentage of trusted NHS staff who have received a dose of a Covid vaccine is around 92% nationwide, with 88% of staff having received both doses. However, there is variation in uptake with new expected data due to be released today showing that between NHS trusts uptake rates can range from around 78% to 94% for both doses.
National influenza vaccination rates in the health services have increased from 14% in 2002 to 76% last year. In some settings, however, the rates are as low as 53%.
Influenza vaccination has been recommended for staff and vulnerable groups in the UK since the late 1960s, with the average number of deaths in England for the five seasons 2015-2020 estimated to be over 11,000 deaths per year. During the 2019/2020 winter season, 86% of influenza-associated deaths were in people aged 65 and over.
In addition to protecting vulnerable patients, the proposals will protect staff, which is particularly important for hospital trusts where many unplanned staff absences can put additional pressure on already hard-working clinicians providing patient care during periods of time. peak like winter.
Health and Social Affairs Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Many patients treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk for serious consequences from COVID-19, and we must do what we can to protect them.
It’s so clear to see the impact of vaccines against respiratory viruses that can be fatal for vulnerable people, and that’s why we are exploring mandatory vaccines for COVID-19 and influenza.
We will carefully review responses to the consultation but, whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have yet to be stung to consider getting the vaccine – for their own health as well as that of their own. entourage.
The government recently consulted on the need to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for staff working in the adult social care sector. To protect nursing home residents, workers will now have to receive a double needle stick as a condition of deployment to CQC-regulated nursing homes in England by November 11, unless exempted.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) Social Care Working Group also indicated that there is a strong scientific case for similar approaches to immunization offerings and support in hospital care settings across the country. NHS, as there will be in nursing homes, given the equally close and overlapping networks. between residents or patients and workers of all kinds in both.
The COVID-19 vaccine has already had a significant impact in reducing hospitalizations and deaths, with Public Health England estimating that more than 112,000 lives have been saved so far.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has said this will be the first winter in the UK when SARS-CoV-2 is expected to co-circulate with other respiratory viruses such as influenza. This could contribute significantly to winter pressures from the NHS, with more vulnerable people due to be admitted to hospital in the coming months.
The consultation will seek advice on the proposals, their scope and any potential impact they may have on staff and safety, such as reducing staff sick leave. The results will then help inform decision-making on how the change might be implemented and who might be exempt – if a decision is made to introduce this requirement. Staff, healthcare providers, stakeholders, patients and their families are invited to participate to make their views heard, with a final decision expected this winter.
Since the COVID-19 vaccination rollout began in December 2020, the Department of Health and Welfare has partnered with NHS England to make vaccines as accessible as possible for healthcare and social service workers. NHS England continues to set up hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination centers across the country to make vaccinations as easy as possible, and have provided information at all times to address concerns staff may have about safety and the effectiveness of vaccines for different groups.
For example, lots of real data showing that vaccines are safe and very effective for vulnerable groups, including pregnant women – a group we know may have some reluctance to get vaccinated. However, research shows pregnant women are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and 98% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated – while no pregnant woman who has received two doses vaccine has never been hospitalized due to COVID. -19 in the UK.
Each year, NHS organizations need to ensure that staff can also easily access the flu vaccine and encourage staff to get vaccinated, for example by opening easily accessible clinics at hospital sites or offering 24 hour mobile vaccinations.
We continue to do all we can to protect NHS patients and prevent transmission in hospital. As part of the £ 5.4bn package announced on Monday to support the NHS over the next six months, £ 2.8bn will cover the costs of improved infection control measures to protect staff and patients virus.
- The consultation will be posted on gov.uk later today.
- The consultation will examine three clinical risks and how they can be mitigated by vaccination: the level of clinical interaction between staff, patients and visitors; the vulnerability of patients; and high risk procedures.
- Some people have an allergy or illness for which the Green Paper or JCVI advise seeking medical advice before proceeding with the vaccination, to find out whether the person should be exempted. We will ensure that any regulations allow for exemptions for medical reasons. Any future regulations will comply with the Green Paper on Infectious Disease Vaccination (COVID-19: the Green Paper, Chapter 14a) and the JCVI which reflects clinical advice.