DH considering making both COVID and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff
An upcoming consultation on whether to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all health and social care staff will also consider extending the requirement to flu vaccinations, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has told C+D.
From next month, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England – including pharmacists who work in or visit care homes – will be required by law to be immunised against COVID-19, unless they are medically exempt, following a 16-week grace period for health workers to receive both doses.
The DH met with social care leaders on June 16 “to brief them on the announcement”.
It also told C+D in June that it would meet with pharmacy representatives to discuss care home working requirements ahead of consulting on whether the COVID-19 vaccination should be mandatory for all staff working in all health and care settings.
A spokesperson for the DH confirmed to C+D on Tuesday (August 31) that the wider consultation will also consider extending the requirement to being vaccinated against flu as well as COVID-19.
The DH would welcome views from pharmacists on the consultation once it has launched, the spokesperson added.
Employment law considerations
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) confirmed to C+D that they have not yet met with the DH on the mandatory COVID-19 jab requirements.
Lawyers have warned that legally requiring NHS staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 could present an “employment law conundrum” for pharmacies.
AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck commented: “Our members are employers and need to abide by employment law considerations, so this type of thing is never simple.
“Currentl,y some employment law insurers do not support a position of making COVID-19 vaccines compulsory. Similarly, this applies to implementing a ‘masks must be worn’ policy,” she added.
“The wellbeing of their teams and patients is of utmost importance to our members and they will be taking all elements into consideration before making a decision. We will be responding to the DH accordingly.”