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23 Mar, 2021 15:40

UK government considering forcing care workers to get Covid vaccine – Hancock

UK government considering forcing care workers to get Covid vaccine – Hancock

The UK government is considering forcing all care workers who work with elderly individuals to get the Covid-19 vaccine, after a lower than expected uptake among the group, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Hancock was responding to speculation following a media report in the Telegraph that draft legislation is being drawn up to legally compel individuals who care for vulnerable elderly people to have the Covid vaccine. 

While Hancock refused to confirm the plan during a Sky News interview, he said that the government was “looking” at the question of whether “in order to be able to care for people professionally, then you ought to have protected yourself, so you can’t infect others.”

Earlier in the day, the health secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “there is a duty of care that people have if you work in an elderly care home.”

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While more than 90% of elderly care home residents are now believed to have had a Covid vaccine, there was a slower take up among staff in those facilities and only around 75% have now received a dose. 

Before the UK government makes a final decision on how to improve vaccination rates among care home staff, it will consult people who work in those facilities and their residents, he said.

Seeking to deflect potential criticism of a forced vaccination policy, Hancock cited how there is a “clear precedent”, with NHS doctors already required to have the Hepatitis B vaccine. Although, he did accept how “there are important moral questions on both sides” that must be explored before the idea proceeds towards legislation.

General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress Frances O’Grady responded to Hancock’s remarks by urging the government to abandon the legislation immediately, as it could “be discriminatory”, warning it risks “damaging trust and employee relations.”

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