Ministers will gather today to determine whether or not to discontinue obligatory Covid vaccines for NHS employees in England. Front-line NHS employees in England must be completely vaccinated by April 1st, which means they must have their first dosage by Thursday.
They will be redeployed or fired if they are not vaccinated by April. Around 77,000 people received no jab at all. Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that the vaccination obligation was being “kept under review” but that it was the “duty” of NHS employees to get vaccinated.
When Delta was the prevalent variation circulating, research suggested that getting vaccinated considerably reduced the chance of contracting and transmitting the virus.
Omicron, a more infectious and milder form, has arisen since then. It has resulted in a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases, albeit the vaccines continue to perform an excellent job of preventing severe cases.
On Tuesday, Mr Javid told the Health and Social Care Select Committee that it was time to “reflect” on policy now that Omicron was dominating. However, it is believed that no final decisions have been made.
Some in the health care system have lobbied the government to repeal the mandate, claiming that it will result in a staffing crisis. The Royal College of Midwives has warned that the policy may have a “catastrophic impact” on maternity services, while the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing have also appealed for a postponement of the deadline.
The Department of Health and Social Care, on the other hand, has previously stated that the policy is “the right thing to do to protect patients”
Vaccines have been shown to be effective against hospitalization, death, infection, and transmission, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
A recent article stated, “Several studies have provided evidence that vaccines are effective at preventing infection,”
“Uninfected individuals cannot transmit; therefore, the vaccines are also effective at preventing transmission.”
While any policy change would be a choice for the health secretary, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told BBC Breakfast that “fundamental facts” have altered as a result of Omicron and that any decision would take that into consideration.
In Scotland and Wales, there are no plans to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for NHS or care home personnel, while Northern Ireland will have a public consultation on the matter.
While the Royal College of Nursing’s director for England, Patricia Marquis, said the college would encourage all nursing staff to be vaccinated, she added that it “makes no sense” to risk losing thousands of professionals when there are already so many openings.
According to government estimates, 40,000 care workers were not vaccinated by the deadline, although it’s unknown how many of them lost their employment due to medical exemptions and reassignment to non-frontline positions.
“We hope the people we’ve lost will consider returning, and we’ll do everything we can to encourage them to do so,” she added. “However, they may have found other roles, and they may be happier in those roles now and not want to move again.”
According to the most recent numbers, over 95% of NHS employees have received at least one Covid vaccine, leaving roughly 77,000 who have not.