Covid vaccines could become a legal requirement for care home workers in England

Vaccines for care home workers in England could be made mandatory (Photo: RUSSELL CHEYNE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a leaked paper seen by The Telegraph, care home workers in England will be legally required to have a Covid-19 vaccine.

The details of the paper submitted to the Covid-19 Operations Cabinet sub-committee show that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have requested a change in the law.

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One line in the paper is said to read: “The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to vaccinate social care workers against Covid-19 and have agreed, in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients, to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce.”

The move comes amid concerns of low uptake of vaccines by staff in care homes, where they are looking after some of the most vulnerable people in relation to the virus.

‘No decisions made yet’

Hancock has said that “no decisions” have yet been made on whether care home workers in England could be legally required to have a Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “No decisions have been taken.

“As you know, we have a task force looking at the question of certification, of whether there’s things that you need to be able to show - that you’ve had a vaccine, or indeed a test - in order to be able to do.

“That looks both at these questions around international travel, but is also looking at the question of whether, in order to be able to care for people professionally, then you ought to have protected yourself so that you can’t infect others.

“This is something that happens already. For instance, doctors have to have the hepatitis B vaccine, and it’s clearly something that has important moral questions on both sides.

“It is something that we’re looking at but no decisions have yet been taken.”

‘Some care homes have called for mandatory vaccinations’

Hancock added: “At the moment, what we’re looking at is for those who work in elderly care homes, on the grounds that they are the most vulnerable to this disease.

“That’s why they were in the very first cohort of the groups to be vaccinated.

“It’s something some care homes have actually called for, because it would require a change in the law through secondary legislation.

“And, therefore, I entirely understand why some care homes wanting to take that duty of care over those who are in that home - for the residents - are keen for us to be able to take this step that they can require people who otherwise pass on the virus to take the vaccine.”