Last reviewed 27 July 2021

The Government’s response to the consultation on making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all care home workers in England has been published, and regulations are now approved and will come into force on the 11 November.

The Government’s response announced a 16-week grace period from 22 July for all care home workers to be vaccinated, with 16 September being the last date for care workers to get their first vaccine so they are fully vaccinated before regulations come into force.

The Government has also now published the impact statement in which it sets out the effect it believes mandatory vaccination will have on care homes.

It predicts 7% of care home workers, which is around 40,000 staff out of 570,000 working in care homes in England, will refuse to have the vaccine and could lose their jobs.

The impact statement estimates that by the time the vaccine becomes compulsory, around 87% of the workforce would have had both doses.

It used weekly data from 14 March to 4 July 2021 to project England-level uptake of the first vaccination eight weeks into a grace period starting in the week commencing 18 July, so as to allow a further eight weeks for a second dose within the grace period.

The assessment of risk states: “Making vaccination a condition of deployment in a care home is likely to have a significant impact on staffing in the short- to medium-term for at least some providers, with those who do not fulfil the requirements needing to be replaced by providers who can no longer deploy them. This could present a risk to staffing levels, given existing capacity and recruitment issues reported by the sector. However, we believe it is likely that any exits will occur throughout the 16-week grace period and not all at once, therefore representing increased turnover rather than a very sudden reduction in staff.”

National Care Forum (NCF) Chief Executive Vic Rayner warned: “With less than 16 weeks to go, the sector urgently needs guidance and sufficient resources provided in a timely manner for the sector to prepare for the implementation of this policy.

“On any given day social care has approximately 112K vacancies. The change to regulation could in 16 weeks’ time, without preparation or support, add a further 40K to that figure, something that we simply cannot allow to happen. The care workforce needs to be treated with the same level of respect and appreciation as NHS workers.”

The Government’s official response and Statement of Impact – The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 were published on 19 July.