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CONSULTATION LAUNCHED ON COVID-19 VACCINES FOR CARE HOME STAFF

A consultation has today been launched on making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for staff in care homes with older adult residents in England.

A consultation has today been launched on making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for staff in care homes with older adult residents in England. 

Experts on the social care working group of SAGE advise 80% of staff and 90% of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of COVID-19. Only 53% of older adult homes in England are currently meeting this threshold. 

This means nearly half of all care homes with older adult residents, home to 150,000 vulnerable people, don’t meet SAGE’s recommended vaccination thresholds for care homes and staff.

Currently, the staff vaccination rate is below 80% in 89 local authority areas - more than half - and all 32 London boroughs. There are 27 local authority areas with a staff vaccination rate below 70%.

A five-week consultation will be launched today looking at requiring care home providers, caring for older adults, to deploy only those workers who have received their COVID-19 vaccination to further protect residents who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and staff.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of COVID-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group.

“Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives.

“The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to COVID-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe.”

This will not include those who can provide evidence of a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination.

With some providers already implementing similar policies, the consultation will help inform decision-making around how the change could be implemented and whether respondents think it will be beneficial.

The consultation will seek views on the proposal, its scope, any potential impact it could have on staffing and safety as well as how it is implemented and who could be exempt.

Staff, providers, stakeholders, residents and their families are being urged to take part to have their views heard with a final decision expected this summer.

Chair of the Adult Social Care Covid-19 Taskforce, David Pearson said: “I would like to thank all our social care workers for providing care and support during the last very difficult year, for having the vaccine and supporting people who have social care services to be vaccinated.

“It is absolutely vital those who have not yet taken the opportunity to have their vaccine do so to keep themselves and those they care for safe.”

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