From October, anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England 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 Department for Health and Social Care (DH) said.
This includes anyone who works in a care home full-time – such as care home pharmacists – as well as those who visit for occasional work, under new legislation that will be brought before parliament “at the earliest opportunity”.
The news follows a five-week DH consultation launched in April, which proposed changing the law to require care home providers to only “deploy” vaccinated professionals.
The DH also consulted on whether this policy should be “extended to include other professionals who visit the care home, for example NHS workers providing close personal care to people living in the care home”.
The original scope of the consultation proposed applying this only to care homes that look after patients aged 65 and over, but following the consultation the DH decided to extend this to all CQC-registered homes.
The DH said that a response to the consultation, which ended on May 26, will be published “in due course”.
'Safeguarding' care home residents
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have a responsibility to do all we can to safeguard those receiving care including in the NHS and so will be consulting further on whether to extend to other health and social care workers.
“This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future. I’d urge anyone working in care homes to get their jab as soon as possible.”
However, Northern Ireland's health minister Robin Swann said today that mandatory vaccines were "not necessary" in that country because vaccine uptake among care home workers was high enough already.
"We're not in the place where we have to make vaccines compulsory at this minute in time," Mr Swann told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster.