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Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adult care home workers

05 August 2021 | Melissa Toney

In April 2021 the Department of Health and Social Care launched an open consultation seeking views on making vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes, to protect the people most at risk in our communities. The nationwide consultation closed on the 21st of May 2021.

Advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) social care working group states that 80% of staff and 90% of residents in each individual care home setting must receive at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks.

Government figures show that only 65% of care homes in England currently meet the SAGE target, falling to 44% of care homes in London.

With this information in mind, in tandem with PPE, testing and all other IPC measures, the Government has taken the decision to make vaccination a mandatory condition of deployment in care homes.

Whilst there is an argument that this course of action could potentially be limiting freedom of choice, the Government’s focus is on protecting those in society who are most vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19.

Residents in care homes are particularly vulnerable to severe illness and death from COVID-19. In April 2021 recorded data showed that at least 1/3 attributable deaths in England were care home residents.

Therefore, making vaccination a condition of deployment in these settings will help make sure those at high risk due to age, underlying health conditions, or disability, are better protected against the virus and so potentially this may override any ‘freedom of choice argument’.

When do mandatory Covid vaccinations for care home workers come into force?

The new regulations are being fast tracked and come into force on the 11 November 2021.

If you are a care manager or care home colleague, yet to be vaccinated, or involved in helping others get theirs you need time to prepare for the introduction of this legislation.

It is already the 15th week of a 16-week grace period, which began on the 22nd of July 2021. During this time, it is anticipated that colleagues who haven’t been vaccinated can make arrangements to have both doses. 

According to the timeline in place the last day for care home workers to get their first vaccine and still be able to get their second vaccine before the regulations come into effect is the 16th of September 2021.

It is also worth noting care colleagues will likely be invited to have a third dose and a flu jab later this year.

What does this mean for care home managers?

Employers in the care sector find themselves in a difficult position between protecting vulnerable people in their care and the rights of their employees who do not wish to be vaccinated. By making the vaccination of care home workers mandatory, it becomes a legal requirement.

The only exemptions will be those individuals with an allergy or condition listed in the Public Health England (PHE) ‘green book’. Anyone who needs to enter a care home in an emergency will also be excempt, as will those under the age of 18.

Legal advice for care home managers

If you have any questions about the new mandatory vaccinations for care home workers, or any Covid related issue, our team of Healthcare solicitors can help. From employment and HR issues to regulatory and corporate law, we provide wraparound advice to support care home managers. To speak to the team please call 0117 906 9400 or email hello@gl.law

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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