Vaccinations may no longer be required to remain working in the health and social care sector.
Yesterday, 31 January, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced his belief that “it is no longer proportionate to require ‘Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment’”.
The government are now consulting on revoking the legal requirement.
This development comes just three days before many unvaccinated workers in regulated health and social care activities, who fall in scope of the new Regulations will have to receive their first jab against COVID-19 if they wish to continue to be able to work normally from the 1 April.
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 were made in January, leaving employers and workers with a 12-week grace period in which to consult on the new laws, to become vaccinated (unless exempt) and to obtain the necessary evidence, otherwise they would face dismissal.
Since it was announced in September that this requirement may become law, 127,000 NHS staff received the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning that 95% have now had at least one dose.
The announcement concerned ‘all social care settings’ which means that the equivalent legal obligation on care homes, which came into force back in November, may also no longer apply moving forwards.
The Department of Health and Social Care still advocates that “those working in health and social care still have a professional duty to get vaccinated” and has said that while the legal requirement to be vaccinated is due to be removed, the government will work with Royal Colleges and professional regulators to strengthen guidance and will consider updates to the Code of Practice in relation to COVID-19 and therefore workplace practices.
The Health Secretary has said that this review has been prompted by significant recent changes, such as the replacement of Delta as the dominant variant with Omicron, which represents 99% of infections and that over one third of all the UK’s COVID-19 cases have occurred in the last 8 weeks.
It was considered that the population as a whole is now better protected against hospitalisation and that Omicron is “intrinsically less severe”.
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