The UK’s human rights watchdog has ruled that it is ‘appropriate’ to force care home staff to be vaccinated against Covid.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) gave its blessing for the policy which is being considered by the ministers.
health secretary Matt Hancock Confirmed in April that the government would consider making vaccines mandatory because it was concerned it was below average despite being particularly important because residents are at high risk.
There were concerns about whether it was ethical to force someone to get vaccinated, but the EHRC said it was a ‘right to prioritize protection of the right to life’.
More than 29,000 people have died in care homes in England since the start of the pandemic and elderly people are at a significant risk of dying if they catch the virus.
Despite this, only 83 percent of England’s 473,000 care home workers have received their first dose of the vaccine, even though they have been eligible since December.
For comparison, more than 90 percent of people in all over 50 age groups took the first dose. And only six in 10 caregivers (64 percent) took a second dose, which is now considered necessary to prevent the major Indian variant.
The government is consulting on whether to make COVID vaccines mandatory for care workers and the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it would be a ‘right to prioritize protection of the right to life for residents and workers’ (Picture: A carer gets a jab) in Hertfordshire in February)
An EHRC spokesperson said, “Requiring vaccination for care home staff provides a way to protect older residents who are at risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19.”
‘It will support their right to their private and family life, health, to live independently as well as reduce the risks to workers.
‘Any requirement should be applied proportionately with exemptions for the small number of people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
‘Compulsory vaccination is not a new idea, as some NHS trusts require staff to get hepatitis B vaccine.’
The policy was introduced when it emerged that caring home workers were avoiding offering a vaccine and were less likely than average to get a jab.
Carers often fall into other groups that are found to be less likely to be vaccinated separately, such as being younger, living in a low-income area, or from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Employers have tried to promote vaccine coverage among their employees and some have even implemented ‘no jab, no job’ policies.
Vaccine offered to all children over 18 ‘within weeks’
Ministers are preparing to introduce the vaccine to all people over the age of 18 within weeks to help stop the spread of the Indian version.
So far only adults age 30 and older have been invited for their jabs and health leaders are focusing their efforts on giving older people their second dose.
But it is understood that officials are planning to open up eligibility to all age groups amid Indian tensions – which has been renamed the ‘delta version’ – among the youth spreading much faster.
In a speech today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised the nation’s “extraordinary vaccine heroes” – including healthcare workers and volunteers.
Government figures today show that three quarters of adults have taken one dose and nearly half have taken another.
Yesterday 108,607 first doses were distributed across the UK, bringing the country’s total to 39.6 million.
And another 338,565 second doses were also given, meaning that about 26.1 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated (49.5 percent).
NHS England’s lead for the immunization programme, Dr Emily Lawson, said the three-quarter mark was ‘another big milestone’ and added: ‘The Covid-19 vaccine is our most effective weapon against the coronavirus and to achieve this There has never been a more important time than this. Protected.’
Mandatory vaccines could mean that only vaccinated workers are allowed into care homes and those who haven’t will be denied work.
The health department launched a public consultation on the policy earlier this year and a decision on it is expected by July.
SAGE has said that at least 80 percent of employees and 90 percent of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against the COVID outbreak.
Mr Hancock said caregivers had a ‘duty of care’ towards the elderly they worked with, suggesting it would be irresponsible for them not to jab.
The sector is divided on the issue and GMB workers union organizer Kelly Andrews said in April: ‘Making vaccination mandatory is an incredibly bad idea.
‘There will undoubtedly be care workers who cannot receive the vaccine due to health or pregnancy reasons, and will be left out of the ambit of the plan.’
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, in consultation with the government, said: ‘In making laws for compulsory vaccination, the government has the right to prioritize the protection of the right to life for residents and employees.
‘In our view care home workers working directly with the elderly and disabled need to be vaccinated, subject to certain important safeguards to ensure that the requirement remains proportionate and the risk of unlawful discrimination or breach of care To reduce the human rights of workers.’
It states that if a vaccination law is enacted for care workers, it should not be permanent and should have a ‘sunset clause’ requiring an expiration date or extending it after a certain time.
Figures from NHS England show that, as of 23 May, 392,112 of the 472,534 care workers in older adults’ homes had received their first dose of the vaccine (83 per cent).
And by that date (64 percent) both doses had been received on 300,636.
This varies from region to region and only 75 per cent of care workers in London have had the vaccine, meaning one in four is still not vaccinated.
Coverage was highest in the North East and Yorkshire and the South West, where more than 85 percent were protected and almost seven in 10 were fully immunized.
In comparison, 95 percent of residents were vaccinated with one dose and 86 percent with two.
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