The government has confirmed that everyone working in care homes must be fully vaccinated under a new law to protect residents.
The legislation, which will come into force in October subject to parliamentary approval and a subsequent 16 week grace period, means anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England for residents requiring nursing or personal care must have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated we need to do everything we can to keep reducing the risk.”
The new regulations follow an extensive consultation with the social care sector, staff, residents and their families on the issue.
Mr Hancock said: “Through our consultation we have listened to the experiences and concerns of providers and people living and working in care homes to help shape our approach.
“We have a responsibility to do all we can to safeguard those receiving care including in the NHS and so will be consulting further on whether to extend to other health and social care workers.
“This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future. I’d urge anyone working in care homes to get their jab as soon as possible.”
The government will launch a further public consultation in due course on whether or not to make COVID-19 and flu vaccination a condition of deployment in health and care settings.
Dr Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester, said: “We believe that we should all do whatever possible to protect the most vulnerable of society, therefore we welcome the government’s proposal to require everyone working in a care home to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We took the decision in February that staff working in a Barchester care home or hospital must be vaccinated and we have carried out extensive engagement programmes with staff, as well as 1-1 support to encourage this. As a result we are seeing strong uptake and positive engagement with COVID-19 vaccination, and we are delighted that the outcome is that 99% of our staff are willing to have the vaccine.”