Layer 1

COVID-19 vax not mandatory in the UK – including for healthcare staff

Sturgeon: “Vaccination has traditionally been voluntary”
Sturgeon: “Vaccination has traditionally been voluntary”

People eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, including health and social care staff, will not be forced to get their vaccination, the UK governments have confirmed.

This content has now expired

Please find more up-to-date information here

This clarification follows the news yesterday morning (December 2) that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, with NHS staff set to start administering it as early as next week.

Speaking in parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that while he “strongly urges people” to get the vaccine, “it is no part of our culture or our ambition in this country to make vaccines mandatory”.

NHS England and Improvement told C+D today (December 3) that Mr Johnson has urged everyone to receive their vaccine and that this includes healthcare staff. “Further details will be announced in due course,” a spokesperson said.

“Persuading everybody” to get vaccine

Mr Johnson’s views were echoed by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who in a press conference yesterday said that she would encourage anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine “as soon as they are offered, and they become eligible for it”.

“Vaccination has traditionally been something that is voluntary, not compulsory,” she added. However, the Scottish government “will put everything we’ve got behind persuading everybody to get this vaccine as soon as they become eligible”, Ms Sturgeon added.

She said that she expects the first vaccines to be administered by the NHS in Scotland from December 8.

“No one will be forced”

Dr Gill Richardson, chair of the COVID-19 vaccine programme in Wales, also welcomed the news of the approved COVID-19 vaccine at a press conference yesterday. She said that while “this vaccine is the best way to protect people… no-one will be forced to have it”.

“However, I would encourage you, when you’re called, to accept this offer, which will save lives and protect the NHS and eventually help us to resume to normal life”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health in Northern Ireland told C+D yesterday that people will be able to decide whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as “all vaccination programmes in Northern Ireland are voluntary”.

C+D has approached the government in each UK nation to ask for the specific details of COVID-19 vaccine uptake targets among NHS staff.

JCVI priority recommendations

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations advised the UK government yesterday that older adult resident in care homes “should be the highest priority for vaccination”, along with care home staff. It confirmed that this cohort should be followed by health and social care staff, including pharmacists, as it had anticipated in its interim advice issued on September 25.

A COVID-19 vaccination survey of locum pharmacists by locum agency Locate a Locum, published yesterday, found that 128 (50%) out of 255 locums would get a COVID-19 vaccine, while 21% are unsure.

In a statement published yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care said that NHS England will release further details on how the vaccines will be deployed, but the plan will include the use of hospital hubs for “NHS and care staff and older patients to get vaccinated”.


Will you be getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, as soon as it’s available
Yes, but not immediately. I have concerns about how fast it’s been developed and would like more information first
No, I’m not confident that a vaccine that has been developed so quickly will be safe
No, I have reservations about vaccines in general
Total votes: 186

Would you get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Hope Mask, Locum pharmacist

An mRNA vaccine is a protein lab engineered to cause the patient to create coronavirus  like proteins. The body then develops antibodies to these psuedo viruses. These antibodies hopefully will then protect against the Coronavirus. I think it's not only stupid but totallly irresponsible to declare such a product made in only one year safe. If any Pharmacist is able to certify a product only trialed for one year as safe, then I think there is a big problem in society. I prefer to be honest with the public and say it is a new drug  without full risk information yet. Protect people by being honest. No one truly knows how many people will react badly to this new drug in the future. My life is not for political drug trials. We need drugs  that actually kill the virus directly not vaccines that allows humans to live in symbiosis with viruses. 

Getting Shorter, Community pharmacist

As a male, about to turn 50, who had a chest infection around 25 years ago which left me with asthma ever since... I feel the unknowns about any longer-term side effects of the new type of vaccine are far over-weighed by the likely dangers to me of catching covid. So I will be having the mRNA vaccine when offered.

But... it's a risk:benefit ratio that's not going to be the same for all. And if a choice was available at the same time, I'd be choosing the old fashioned adenovirus. So I understand why (even not left-field-nanomachine) people would want to wait rather than be jabbed immediately.


Funnily enough, although I understand why they're pushing it this way, the government's "don't worry, we've checked and it's perfectly fine" message actually puts me off as I know that's not ~exactly~ the case...

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I think you've touched on a very important point there. I would argue that if questioned, a large majority of people would say they do not trust the government, and that can only be the fault of politicians and their questionable behaviour.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Nanomachines? I can just see some company policy getting rid of the robotic dispensing machine and replacing it with inoculated staff as an alternative to hub dispensing!

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

It is easy to identify those who would benefit most from vaccination and every effort should be made to persuade them to take it.  However for a very large number of younger healthier people I cannot see why the unknown and untested  potential of  long term side effects of a vaccine should be risked against the possibility of catching a virus which is unlikely to be much more than a minor inconvenience if anything at all. Also to make the vaccine compulsory as far as I know would contravene the Human Rights Act. Furthermore discriminating against people who have not had the vaccine or prohbiting them from publicly shared activities unless they had a vaccine would be coercion which also contravenes the act

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This is exactly the right approach to me. The people who are at risk get vaccinated, those who are not don't. Makes perfect sense and overuse of the vaccine is more likely to make the virus mutate. The only reason it hasn't so far is that it hasn't been challenged and hasn't needed to, but the mink issue in Denmark (I REALLY hope their fur industry is totally destroyed by this) has shown it is perfectly capable of mutation.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Presumably because there needs to be a certain % of people vaccinated to reduce the risk enough?

Whilst I doubt a UK government will make it mandatory; other countries will - Australia has already said they will not allow unvaccinated people into their country and I suspect others will follow - and why wouldn’t they?

Events etc.....theatres are likely to have their own policies and if only allowing people who are vaccinated in seems reasonable if you consider that an outbreak may result in your business having to close .

For those at risk groups there seems to be a 1 in 10 chance of dying so you can see why there’s a big much to find a solution......


Leon The Apothecary, Student

I believe the percentage is around about the 60% mark for a vaccine to be effective. Please check me on this though.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I would agree with your position in general. I think a hospital operation may require encouragement to receive it in advance of a stay. As someone else has pointed out the 'super-spreader' could be an issue in some settings potentially (especially if identified as such).

I think once the arrangements roll out and the vulnerable are treated, the angst over the wackier elements will recede, but holiday companies and poorer countries may be more insistent on vaccine status.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Remember though that it is believed that vaccinated people still get the disease but are much more likely to be asymptomatic or only with mild symptoms and able to carry on as normal. Therefore it could be argued that vaccination could make a super-spreader event more likely rather than less.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

I suspect unvaccinated people don’t get travel insurance.......

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Really?? You honestly think that the insurance industry will cut off it's own nose in this way? No, they'll just make contraction of covid an uninsured risk.

V K P, Community pharmacist

Mr Prime Minister can we please have a choice to not pay taxes too. why are we forced to pay taxes to support the NHS which then has to face the burden of the super spreaders who are not forced to have the vaccine but are allowed to put others at risk at the expense of the tax payer. 

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

If you are vaccinated and protected 90% by this fabulous new vaccine, why are you bothered about catching covid from the super spreaders riddled with disease as you aptly put it ? Please explain this me am struggling to grasp it ?

Hope Mask, Locum pharmacist

We cannot all take vaccines irresponsibly because of a few people who refuse to maintain proper hygiene. Test those carrying viruses and isolate them and allow others to live peacefully. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This is a free country. We have choices. If you want mandatory, move to somewhere that has a totalitarian regime. I'm sure you'll be very happy.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I've been struggling with some of the stories I've been hearing from those who have taken an anti-vaccination stance; nanomachines and mind control being a few examples. I mean, I respect the ability to make a decision either way, but some of the reasons when asked what their justifications take seriously.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I won't be having it Leon, but it's nothing to do with the conspiracies. I just don't want something being irreversibly stuck into my body when no-one (and I mean NO-ONE) knows what the long term effects might be.

I think the Government is right to make it not mandatory though. We are British - we don't do mandatory.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

It won’t be mandatory.....but travel and other activities may well be curtailed.....

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Well, that is actually happening, for example, Qantas Airlines are requiring vaccination evidence to use their airline. I don't think it is a far jump in logic to see this as the start of many other businesses requesting the same, regardless of how we feel about it.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Caroline, you seem, after several comments, to actually be wishing this to happen!? What you really mean is 'I hope Australia won't let you in if you haven't had a vaccine.' 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

That's OK by me. I prefer to holiday in this country anyway. Have you ever been to the Scilly Isles? There is nowhere better in the world.

Job of the week

Pharmacist Manager
Midlands, Cheshire & Dorset
Salary dependent upon experience