Vaccinations to be compulsory for frontline NHS staff

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Health and care workers who refuse to be vaccinated could be moved to back-office roles under the proposals. Only those with valid medical reasons would be exempt. Ministers will hear from experts in a six-week consultation on whether workers should be fully vaccinated to have contact with patients and people receiving care.

During a visit to London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital yesterday, Health Secretary Mr Javid also urged the “small minority” who are not vaccinated to get jabbed for their own health, as well as other people’s.

He said: “Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19 and we must do what we can to protect them.

“It’s so clear to see the impact vaccines have against respiratory viruses which can be fatal to the vulnerable and that’s why we’re exploring mandatory vaccines for both Covid-19 and flu.

“We will consider the responses to the consultation carefully but whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated ‑ for their own health as well as those around them.”

Some 92 percent of NHS staff have had their first dose of a coronavirus jab while 88 percent have had both doses. 

Latest NHS England figures suggest 234,873 social care staff outside of those working in older age care homes are yet to be vaccinated.

Workers in registered care homes have already been told they will need to be double-jabbed as a condition of deployment in England’s care homes by November 11, unless they are exempt.

The announcement comes as figures show that Covid-19 vaccinations are estimated to have directly averted 112,300 deaths in England.

Around 24.7 million infections have also been prevented by the vaccine rollout, along with 143,600 hospital admissions among people aged 65 and over.

The figures, calculated by Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University, cover the period up to August 27. 

Nearly 89 percent of all people aged 16 and over in England have now received one dose, while 80 percent are fully vaccinated. However, the take-up continues to be lower among younger age groups.

An estimated 83 percent of 30 to 39-year-olds in England have now had one jab, along with 73 percent of people aged 18 to 29.

Separate figures from PHE show Covid case rates are rising in all regions, except the South-west.

The North-east has the highest rate, with 378.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to September 5, up from 320.3.

London has the lowest rate at 240.0, up slightly from 237.5.

Case rates are also continuing to rise in most age groups, except for 20 to 29-year-olds, 60 to 69s and people aged 80 and over.

The highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, with 681.4 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to September 5, up sharply week-on-week from 478.3.

The lowest rate is among those aged 80 and over, at 114.0, down from 115.4.

Official figures yesterday showed 167 Covid deaths and 38,013 positive cases.

PHE medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said cases were likely to rise even higher among 10 to 19-year-olds now pupils are back at school and tested more regularly.

She added: “We continue to closely monitor how the start of the school year is impacting infections and will review recommendations accordingly. In recent days many have begun to return to the workplace.

“It’s important to keep following the simple steps to help protect yourself and others, get both doses of the vaccine, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and if you have Covid-19 symptoms, please do not go out.

“You should only leave home to get a PCR test, which you should get as soon as possible if you have symptoms.”

Leading experts from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) were meeting yesterday to discuss who should get autumn booster jabs.A final decision expected soon.

Professor Adam Finn from the JCVI and the University of Bristol warned that the issue needed to be evidence-driven and it was “not going to be possible” to boost everyone.

He said: “Getting the timing right is one of several things that we need to get right.”

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