The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is considering changing the law to require adult care home providers to only “deploy” professionals who have had their COVID-19 vaccine, it said in a five-week consultation launched last night (April 14).
The DH hopes to introduce this requirement for staff working in care homes that support at least one senior who is over 65.
“This is estimated to be approximately 10,000 care homes,” the DH said in the consultation.
The DH is also consulting 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”.
While some workers will be exempt from getting the COVID-19 vaccine, care home managers might ask other professionals to prove they have had their vaccination.
C+D has asked the DH whether this policy could also apply to those pharmacists and their teams who occasionally visit care homes – for instance, to administer flu vaccines.
A DH spokesperson told C+D this is something the consultation will aim to determine.
Is the UK mandating COVID-19 vaccines?
UK governments confirmed in December last year that British healthcare professionals would not be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
But the government is now consulting on requiring adult care home employers in England to only deploy staff who have received their COVID-19 jab. This is because “there are still a high number of older adult care homes which are not yet achieving the level of protection”, which was advised by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies Social Care Working Group, according to the DH consultation.
Following reports that the DH was considering making it mandatory for care home staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine – and in light of the Italian government’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations to all healthcare staff – C+D asked NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) if similar plans were being considered by the national commissioner.
An NHSE&I spokesperson told C+D earlier this month (April 7) that there were no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.