Leading care home operator Barchester Healthcare has set an April deadline for its staff to take up COVID-19 vaccinations.
Whilst reporting that 90% of residents and 83% of staff have been vaccinated as of 22 February, Barchester said it had introduced a new policy expecting all workers to have had the vaccine by 23 April 2021.
The care home operator added it was prepared to delay the deadline in the event there was “any data regarding safety, efficacy or effect on transmission which requires further review”.
Barchester also set out a number of “acceptable exemptions”, including pregnancy, and noted that exempted staff will operate with enhanced PPE.
The care home operator added: “Our long-term ambition is that all patient and resident-facing staff will have the COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect both themselves and the vulnerable residents and patients in our care. We are very aware of concerns around possible discrimination which is in no way our intention. We are doing everything possible to ensure fairness whilst also delivering on our duty to protect our residents, patients and staff.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care told CHP said that while vaccination was not compulsory it was “strongly recommended that all frontline social care workers who can receive a vaccine choose to take it”.
The DHSC said: “We have visited every eligible care home in England, offered vaccines to all staff and are doing everything we can to ensure all those who can take up the vital offer. All eligible staff can book using the national booking service.
“We have introduced measures specifically designed to increase uptake of the vaccine including working with local leaders in communities with lower take up to maximise vaccination numbers and save thousands of lives.”