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England proposes mandatory COVID vaccination for older people’s care home staff

The DHSC has launched a short consultation on mandatory COVID vaccination of staff working in care homes with older adult residents in England.

Care staff have five weeks – until Wednesday 19 May – to give their views on proposals to requiring care home providers, caring for older adults in England, to deploy only those workers who have received their COVID-19 vaccination.

Experts on the social care working group of SAGE advise 80 per cent of staff and 90 per cent of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of COVID-19. However, only 53 per cent of older adult homes in England are currently meeting this threshold.

Currently, there are 27 local authority areas with a staff vaccination rate below 70 per cent, and 121, including all 32 London boroughs, achieving below 80 per cent.

Making vaccines a condition of deployment would help to further protect older people living in care homes, although this would not affect those who can provide evidence of a medical exemption from COVID-19, says the DHSC.

The consultation will seek views on any potential impact on staffing and safety, implementation and exemptions.

Barchester Healthcare is among those companies to introduce a mandatory COVID vaccination policy. Chief executive Dr Pete Calveley said: “We take the view that providing safe care for those we care for is our paramount obligation.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, replied: “Should the vaccine be mandatory for adult social care staff working in care homes for older people it begs the question whether it should not be mandatory for the NHS, those working in other care home settings, supported living, hospices, etc as well.”

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