Last reviewed 16 June 2021
On 16 June 2021, news reports indicated that the Government is set to confirm, in a few days, that it will make the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory for care home staff. Initial reports indicate that affected staff will be given 16 weeks to have the vaccine or face being redeployed or lose their job. It is estimated that 10,000 care homes will be affected and will apply to the following care homes:
which are registered with the Care Quality Commission
which have at least one resident aged over 65
where the staff member is not medically exempt from having the vaccine.
It also now appears that a similar rule will be put in place for other health and care staff. More details are set to follow.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched the consultation on 14 April 2021, and sought views on a proposal to make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes. This would be to protect those who work in care homes, their colleagues and care home residents, and provide reassurance to their families.
To increase vaccine take-up, the Government has proposed amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, which would mean older adult care home providers could only use those staff who have received the Covid-19 vaccination, or those with a legitimate medical exemption, in line with Government guidance.
On 21 May 2021 the Social Care Working Group Consensus Statement, March 2021 was added to the consultation, outlining the methodology for determining the minimum level of vaccine coverage in care home settings. The deadline for responses was also updated to reflect the extension to 26 May 2021.
The document has also been translated into Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Nepali, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish, Ukrainian and Urdu.
The DHSC said that, while vaccination uptake rates are increasing slowly week on week, there is still a high number of older adult care homes that do not have the level of protection needed to reduce the risk of outbreak.
Care England said ensuring high levels of vaccination of people living and working in older adult care homes is an essential public health intervention but it was vital to balance the argument of whether mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for adult social care staff would improve the level of protection to residents.
The Local Government Association (LGA) stated on its website: “The issue at the heart of this consultation is highly sensitive and complex and there are likely to be a range of views in the responses to it from across the entire care sector. We urge Government to take the time to understand and respect this diversity of views which will be essential to avoid entrenching vaccine hesitancy, which could then exacerbate existing health inequalities.”
It said that, as the impacts of work to increase voluntary vaccination take-up become more clear, take-up could reach desired levels by the time the consultation period is completed. It said if this happens, the Government may need to revisit its case for the central proposal in the consultation.
The LGA said on 21 May the notional target of 80% take-up had been reached, at 82%, but that for some areas take-up rates remained lower, suggesting a targeted approach would be more proportionate and appropriate; and it would be “helpful for the Government to address this point in its response, particularly if it chooses to apply condition of deployment as a national policy”.
The LGA said, should the Government choose to proceed with their proposals despite reaching acceptable levels of vaccination on a voluntary basis it would need to be clear and transparent on the latest levels of take-up and why the mandatory intervention is still warranted.
The consultation document is available at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-vaccination-a-condition-of-deployment-in-older-adult-care-homes.