The government has been urged to think again and delay the introduction of mandatory care home jabs for care home workers as its deadline is due to come into force this week.
Care home workers are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 11 November under the new rules.
With around 60,000 care home workers still to be vaccinated the measures could result in 170,000 vacancies in the sector.
The government has kept to the deadline this week despite anger in the sector following its announcement that mandatory jabs for the NHS were being delayed until April.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, told the Express the government should “listen to the sector” as the deadline loomed.
“It is ridiculous of the government to mandate vaccination for residential and nursing care staff but not those working elsewhere in the NHS whose deadline for vaccination is April.
“Why are NHS staff able to wait until April when they are dealing with patients who are just as vulnerable? What is the rationale?
“If Sajid Javid believed this policy was important he would mandate vaccination across the whole system. And if he believed it were necessary he should implement it with a proper plan to make it work in the face of mass staff shortages as many staff who do not want to take the vaccine will leave.
“The care home sector is already struggling to cope under reduced staffing. This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many care homes. We already have a shortage of homes, some have already closed, others are reducing capacity. What is the government going to do with the workforce shortage? I believe this vaccine mandate will create a crisis in social care.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We have taken action to introduce vaccination requirements in care homes and we recently consulted on extending this further across health and other social care services.
“We are working closely with local authorities and care home providers to ensure there will always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high quality care.
“Vaccines are safe and effective and almost 4 in 5 people in the UK have already had both jabs to protect themselves against COVID-19. It’s never too late to take up the offer and we would urge everyone who is eligible to come forward as we head into the winter months.”