Frontline NHS workers and social care staff will need to have Covid-19 vaccinations in England to continue in their jobs, the Health Secretary has announced.
In a Commons statement, Sajid Javid said there is no doubt that health and social care staff “carry a unique responsibility” in the work they do and “we must avoid preventable harm”.
He said only those who do not have face-to-face contact with patients or who are medically exempt will not be required to have two doses of a Covid jab, with enforcement of the rule from April 1 next year.
The decision applies to health and wider social care settings that are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Staff will not be required to have a winter flu vaccination though the option remains under review, Mr Javid added.
Care home workers in England have already been told they must be fully vaccinated by the deadline of this Thursday.
Mr Javid told MPs the decision to make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory for NHS staff does not mean the Government does not recognise concerns about “workforce pressures” this winter.
He added: “Allow me to be clear that no-one in the NHS or care that is currently unvaccinated should be scapegoated, singled out or shamed.
“That would be totally unacceptable. This is about supporting them to make a positive choice to protect vulnerable people, to protect their colleagues. And of course to protect themselves.”
More than 100,000 people working in the NHS in England remain unvaccinated, the Cabinet member also told MPs.
“The take-up throughout the NHS in England is 93% of the first dose, 90% of two doses, and that does leave – the latest number I have – 103,000 people in the NHS, that work for the NHS, that are unvaccinated, so not even one jab.
“It’s hard to know what portion of that number will take up the offer of vaccination.
“If we look at what has happened with social care – care homes – since that policy was announced, there was a significant fall in the equivalent number and I think we can certainly expect that here.”