Sajid Javid Announces Compulsory COVID Vaccination for NHS Workers Starting April 2022
The UK government's latest estimates found that more than 103,000 NHS staff, or over 10 percent of the entire workforce, are currently unvaccinated.
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations
will be compulsory for frontline National Health Service (NHS) staff and social care workers in England as of 1 April 2022.
Javid said in a Commons statement on Tuesday that he made the decision after considering scores of responses to a consultation that kicked off in the summer, adding that he "concluded that all those working in the NHS
and [wider] social care will have to be vaccinated".
"We must avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS, and of course protect the NHS itself", Javid underscored.
He said that over 93% of the NHS' frontline workers have already had their first dose and 90% are now fully vaccinated. At least 105,000 domiciliary care workers remain unvaccinated.
The health secretary added that those in the NHS with a medical reason not to have the COVID-19 vaccine
and staffers who do not have face-to-face contact with patients would be exempt.
According to him, no unvaccinated NHS worker should be obstructed, and they should instead be supported to make "a positive choice".
"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", the health secretary added.
Javid additionally said that the decision to make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for NHS staff does not mean the government isn't concerned about "workforce pressures’" this winter.
"It's with this in mind that we've chosen for the condition not to come into force until 12 weeks after parliamentary approval, allowing time for remaining colleagues to make the positive choice to protect themselves and those around them, and time for workforce planning", he said.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard, for her part, stressed that the NHS "has always been clear that staff should get the life-saving COVID vaccination to protect themselves, their loved ones and their patients, and the overwhelming majority have already done so".
"Working with NHS organisations, we will continue to support staff who have not yet received the vaccination to take up the evergreen offer", she underlined.
The statement came as Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents England's NHS trusts, said that they "understand why people are vaccine-hesitant" and that the government needs "to win the argument with them rather than beat them around the head".
8 October 2021, 05:26 GMT
He argued that there would be concern that chronic NHS understaffing problems could be further exacerbated as a result of compulsory vaccinations, adding, "we simply cannot afford to lose thousands of NHS staff overnight".
Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, emphasised that getting vaccinated "remains a free choice for all health and care staff".