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Health department warning over vaccine mandate for NHS staff in England

Ministers have been issued with a stark warning over mandatory Covid vaccines for NHS workers in England, with a leaked document saying growing evidence on the Omicron variant casts doubts over the new law’s “rationality” and “proportionality”.

Two jabs will become compulsory for frontline NHS staff from 1 April after MPs voted on the legislation last month.

But the document, drawn up by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) officials and seen by the Guardian, said the evidence base on which MPs voted “has changed”, creating a higher chance of objections and judicial review.

The effectiveness of only two vaccine doses against Omicron, and the lower likelihood of hospitalisations from the milder variant, are cited.

More than 70,000 NHS staff – 4.9% – could remain unvaccinated by 1 April, the document says. NHS trusts in England are preparing to start sending dismissal letters from 3 February to any member of staff who has not had their first dose by then.

Amid significant pressures on the NHS, last week groups including the Royal College of Nursing urged Sajid Javid, the health secretary, to delay the legislation, known as “vaccination as a condition of deployment” (VCOD2).

On Tuesday the Royal College of Nursing said the leaked memo should prompt ministers to call a halt to the imposition of compulsory jabs, which it called “reckless”.

“The government should now instigate a major rethink”, said Patricia Marquis, the RCN’s England director. “Mandation is not the answer and sacking valued nursing staff during a workforce crisis is reckless.”

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Source: The Guardian, 18 January 2022

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Interesting. Time to rethink I believe.

Although I work in a vaccination clinic I am against mandatory vaccination, except for international travel where it links to the need to vaccinate as many people as possible across the world. Some people cannot have the vaccines for clinical reasons, and I've sympathy for those few who have had severe side-effects and say 'can I not have my immunity level checked instead? 

Other things that concern me are when people say (or imply) that those unvaccinated don't deserve treatment. That appalls me. Us clinicians are not here to judge, although I can appreciate people's frustration & why this hurts if you have lost someone close. Also, I get cross when people in positions of power (especially clinicians) demand to know why individuals are exempt for wearing a mask (often asking them in non-private spaces). This is because while some are just anti-mask and could wear one, some people have deep rooted problems that mean they can't wear a mask, this may be due to past abuse.

Mandatory vaccination for NHS staff feeds into people's prejudices, in my view.

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