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UK COVID vaccine update

Published on 16/06/21 at 11:09am
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Care home staff vaccinations to be compulsory

COVID-19 vaccinations among care home staff are to become mandatory, the Guardian has reported.

The move comes as government ministers consider extending this to all NHS staff, and will likely cause outrage amongst staff in both services. There is the possibility that the move could lead to the government being sued under European human rights law or equalities legislation for breaching the freedom of people who work in caring roles to decide what they put into their bodies.

The move would impact over 1.5 million workers in the UK, and the Guardian reported that the announcement of a decision is likely to be made in the coming weeks.

Employer and staff organisations have warned that the move could backfire on the government, as staff may chose to quit rather than get the jab. Under the current plans in discussion, those working with adults will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.

It has also been reported that the government also has plans to make it mandatory for the 1.38 million people who are directly employed by the NHS in England to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and winter flu – proposals that have already been criticised by groups representing doctors, nurses and other staff.

The Department of Health and Social Care will in the coming days launch two separate consultation exercises into making COVID and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff. But ministers, including the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, believe the arguments in favour of protecting patients from potentially infectious staff now outweigh those that allow health workers the right to choose whether or not to have either immunisation.

The latest figures show that, as of 6 June, 89% of NHS staff had had their first dose and 82% had had both. Take-up has been lower among social care staff. Vaccination statistics show that 83.7% of staff in adult care homes had received at least one dose by 6 June and 68.7% had been double-jabbed.


Government advised to hold-off on child vaccinations

Ministers will be advised against the mass rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations to children below the age of 18 in the UK, until scientists obtain more data on the risks, The Telegraph has reported.

Experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are understood to be preparing an interim statement for release as soon as the end of the week following a meeting on Tuesday.

An unnamed government source spoke to The Telegraph, saying: "Scientists want to see more data from the US and elsewhere before taking a firm stand either way. Nobody is going to make a final decision at this point. The JCVI will want to weigh up the benefits against the risks before vaccinating children, and it wants more data.”

Committee members are understood to have voiced ethical concerns about vaccinating children as they rarely suffer severe COVID-19.

Earlier this month, Britain's medicines regulator extended approval of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children aged 12 to 15 years.


All over 18s to be invited to book jab by end of the week

All over-18s in England will be offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this week, Downing Street has confirmed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman told reporters all adults would be able to get a jab "from the end of this week" following an announcement by the chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens, who said a new treatment for infected people is also set to be available soon.

Sir Simon said the health service hoped to "finish the job" of vaccinating people over the next month.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference, he said: "It is now very important that we use the next four weeks to finish the job to the greatest extent possible for the COVID vaccination programme. By 19 July we aim to have offered perhaps two-thirds of adults across the country double jabs.

"I expect that by the end of this week, we'll be able to open up the National Booking Service to all adults age 18 and above."

In Wales and Northern Ireland, over 18s have already been invited to book their vaccinations, and in Scotland over 30s are currently able to receive a dose.

Kat Jenkins

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