Health and social care workers in England must have both COVID-19 vaccines by April 2022 in order to be deployed
Following a six-week consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the UK Government has announced new measures that mean frontline health and social care workers in England will need to provide evidence they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be deployed.
This rule applies to all staff who have face-to-face contact with service users, including volunteers, health and care providers, people contracted to do work across health and social care, and non-clinical staff who have direct contact with patients, unless they are exempt.
The requirements will come into force in the spring, subject to the passage of the regulations through Parliament. There will be a 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force to allow those who have not yet been vaccinated to have both doses. Enforcement would begin from 1 April 2022, subject to parliamentary approval.
This will allow time for health and social care providers to prepare and encourage workers uptake before the measures are introduced, according to DHSC.
The news follows a UK Government decision to make it mandatory for people working in CQC-registered care homes to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated with both doses, including professionals who come in to do work in care homes. The deadline for care home workers to be doubled jabbed is 11th November.
These new measures will ensure the maximum number of NHS staff are vaccinated to help ensure the most vulnerable patients gain the greatest possible levels of protection against infection, the government highlights. Elderly people, those with disabilities and some seriously ill people in hospital face a higher risk from COVID-19 than the wider population, and are more likely to use health and care services more often.
Added the UK Government: “The measures will also protect workers, which is important for hospital trusts where extensive unexpected absences can put added pressure on already hardworking clinicians providing patient care.”
While the policy will not apply to COVID-19 boosters or the flu vaccine at this time, the government says it will keep this under review, and if necessary, bring forward amendments to the regulations.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Vaccines save lives and patient safety is paramount. Many of the people being treated in hospitals or cared for at home are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. We have a responsibility to give patients and staff the best possible protection.
“We have consulted closely with the sector and will introduce new regulations to ensure people working in healthcare are vaccinated from next spring.
“I want thank everyone who works in health and social care for the amazing work they do. If you haven’t come forward for your jab yet, please do so. We are determined to support you in this process.”