Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for front-line nurses ‘highly likely’
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Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for front-line nurses ‘highly likely’

Petra Kendall-Raynor

It is ‘highly likely’ COVID-19 vaccination will be made mandatory for front-line NHS staff, according to health and social care secretary Sajid Javid.

Nursing Standard. 36, 10, 7-7. doi: 10.7748/ns.36.10.7.s4

Published: 06 October 2021

A six-week public consultation on whether COVID-19 and flu vaccinations should be compulsory for front-line staff in England closes on 22 October.


Nurse Ewa Syczuk receives one of the first booster jabs given in the UK

Speaking in the House of Commons as he set out plans for tackling the pandemic over autumn and winter Mr Javid said: ‘Although we will not be making a final decision until we consider the results of the consultation, it is highly likely that front-line NHS staff and those working in wider social care settings will also have to be vaccinated.’

He said the intention would be to protect people who are in contact with health and social care staff and are at the greatest risk of serious complications.

It has already been decided that, unless medically exempt, staff who work in registered care homes in England must be vaccinated against COVID-19 from 11 November.

Unions have voiced concerns, saying the move could alienate people and exacerbate staff shortages.

RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said: ‘The focus should be on communicating the benefits of vaccination rather than making it mandatory.’

Some trusts are redeploying staff who decline the vaccine. NHS England guidance says trusts can consider moving to a ‘less exposure-prone setting’ those staff who do not wish to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a UK-wide COVID-19 booster vaccine programme is now underway, with front-line staff being among the priority groups.

Orthopaedic nurse Ewa Syczuk, who works at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales, became one of the first nurses in the UK to have the booster.

Ms Syczuk, who in 2020 was unable to work for six months after contracting the virus, urged eligible people to take part in the programme. Recalling her illness, she said: ‘I thought I was going to die. There are two weeks I can’t remember.’

See readers’ panel, page 13 and comment, p58

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