England to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for care workers

COVID-19 vaccinations are to become mandatory for care home staff, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed. 

The move comes as ministers look to reduce the spread of COVID-19 amongst the most vulnerable group of people in care homes and hospitals. To date, there have been more than 40,000 deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in England during the pandemic. 

While the vast majority of staff are already vaccinated, concerns have been raised about the uptake of the vaccine and the number of carers who remain unvaccinated. The latest statistics show that 83.7% of staff in adult care homes had received one dose by June 6th and 68.7% had received both doses – however this varies across regions. 

Under the proposal, care workers will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or risk losing their job. 

The rules will apply to all workers employed directly by the care home, those employed by an agency, and volunteers in the care home. Those coming into care homes to carry out other work – such as trades, hairdressers, and beauticians – will also have to follow the new regulations. 

The rules will not apply to those who have a medical exemption, nor for family and friend visitors, under 18s and emergency services. 

The government are also considering making both the COVID-19 and flu vaccine mandatory for the 1.5 million people who are directly employed by the NHS in England. 

Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have said they have no plans to make COVID vaccines mandatory for care home staff. 

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