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Covid Vaccines May Become Compulsory For Care Home Staff, Matt Hancock Says

Matt Hancock said there was a "duty of care" to protect vulnerable people from the virus

3 min read

The Health Secretary said ministers had a "duty of care" to vulnerable people as he announced a consultation into whether vaccines should be made mandatory for some healthcare workers.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Hancock said a five-week consultation was being launched to consider the plans which see could Covid vaccines become mandatory for all care home staff.

It comes after the government scientific advisory group, SAGE, said 80% of care home staff and 90% of residents would need to be vaccinated in order to prevent future outbreaks of the virus.

But figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show just 53% of adult care homes in England are currently hitting that target, with care staff in London having the lowest rates of vaccinations – with only around 68% of staff having received their first dose.

Announcing the plans to MPs, Hancock said the move was already backed by care home bosses. "Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group," he said. 

"Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives."He added: The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to Covid-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe."

The plans are likely to prove controversial among some Tory MPs who have recently urged ministers not to introduce any mandatory vaccination programmes.

Speaking last month, former cabinet minister David Davis said forcing healthcare staff to receive the vaccine would be "illegal" and coudl breach international law.

It’s illegal to require vaccination at the moment.

"We are bound ourselves by both UN and European international agreements to the use of medical treatment," he told the Commons PACAC committee.

"Medical treatment as it stands must only be for the benefit of the person it’s administered to.

"Medical treatment must not be administered for, as it were, communal purposes – otherwise we’ll all be giving mandatory blood transfusions and so on."

He added: "The answer... is to solve the problem by the method which is legal and acceptable, which is to vaccinate the people who are at risk.

"If I were running a care home, and I am very pro-vaccines, I would say to all my workers – I would like you to vaccinate in the interests of our clients.

"But I couldn’t force it, and I don’t foresee a way which we can force it."

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