Leading care home operators Four Seasons and NorseCare have told CHP that staff COVID vaccinations should remain optional.
A Four Seasons spokesperson said: “We fully support the government’s vaccination programme and strongly encourage all team members to take part, if they wish, and the vast majority have already done so. Our strong belief is that the COVID-19 vaccination should remain optional, in line with that for the winter flu.
“The government has demonstrated that care homes are a safe place to be through the reintroduction of face to face visitation, and our death rate, which has remained below the seasonal average for nine months also supports this view. We will continue to follow all guidance but do not believe compulsory vaccinations are necessary for the protection of residents, which is always our first priority, and to introduce them runs the risk of creating more problems than it solves.”
Norfolk based care home operator NorseCare has also come out against mandatory vaccination.
Martin Rix, Chief Operating Officer of NorseCare, said: “Compulsory vaccination is not a policy we currently have in place within NorseCare, nor is it an approach we are considering adopting for our existing staff at this time.
“We would, however, actively encourage all of our staff to take up the opportunity of a vaccine when offered, in order to protect themselves, their families and the communities we serve.
“Throughout the pandemic, our staff have shown an exceptional level of responsibility and commitment to following the guidelines and safety measures we have put in place.
“More than 1,500 of our staff members have taken up the offer of the first dose of the vaccine, and in addition, nearly 40% of those have already received the second dose.
“We have been incredibly impressed with their commitment to keeping our residents and tenants, their colleagues, and themselves, safe in this way. They are helping to protect some of the people most vulnerable to the effects of the virus.”
Martin also noted that around 96% of residents and tenants in NorseCare settings who chose to have the vaccination have received their first dose, with the second round of vaccinations underway over the next few days and weeks.
While the issue of mandatory staff COVID vaccinations has divided opinion amongst providers, the government is reported to be considering the adoption of a mandatory requirement for all health and social care staff.