NHS staff WON’T be forced to have a mandatory jab this winter despite fears of a spike in cases – but the public will be offered boosters after five months rather than six to try to flatten the curve
- Compulsory vaccinations for health workers likely to be announced next week
- But the actual rule is not expected to be enforced until the end of March
- It comes as ministers look to speed up the rollout of third doses of the vaccine
NHS staff won’t face a mandatory jab-or-job choice before April, health bosses claim, despite fears of soaring wave of Covid cases this winter.
Compulsory vaccinations for those on the frontline are likely to be announced in the coming days, but the actual rule is not expected to be enforced until the end of March.
The policy is part of efforts to control rising infections, which will also soon include allowing the double-jabbed to receive their third booster dose a month earlier than planned.
A consultation on mandatory jabs for NHS staff, similar to the rules currently in force in care homes, was launched earlier this year, claiming it would protect patients and doctors throughout a winter period many expect to be particularly challenging.
But Health Secretary Sajid Javid is rumoured to still have reservations about the policy, with insiders describing him as ‘genuinely split’ — despite publicly saying he was ‘leaning towards’ the mandate.
Health officials, however, insist ‘no final decision’ has been made and that there is unlikely to be an announcement until next week.
NHS staff won’t face a mandatory jab-or-job choice before April, health bosses claim, despite fears of soaring wave of Covid cases this winter
Pressure is growing on Mr Javid to roll out the scheme, however, with one official telling the Telegraph: ‘We had this with the flu jab. We were interested in mandating the flu jab.
‘There was always pushback against it from the NHS. The whole point is that, if you get more people jabbed now from Covid, it is easier for staff.
‘There is an argument that it is one of the best ways to take pressure off staff.’
As concerns continue to grow, changes are being made to the rollout of the booster programme in order to get more shots in arms before Christmas.
Invites will be sent to patients across the country from next week, giving them the opportunity to receive their booster jab five months after their second dose, rather than the current timeframe of six.
Officials are fearing millions of older people will be left without the added protection over the festive period as a result of the current, slow rollout, according to the Sun.
Mandatory jabs for NHS staff has been a move the government has considered for months in a bid to provide the most protection.
But critics say it is ‘neither necessary nor proportionate’, given that 92 per cent of NHS staff are already jabbed.
And care bosses have warned the compulsory vaccine mandate in their sector has been futile, with just 30,000 coming forward after it was made a legal requirement.
Care home workers will be required to have two doses from November 11 in order to keep their jobs.
But figures suggest some 60,000 employees have not got their shots in time, with unions warning the mass exodus could leave some homes ‘no longer able to operate’.
Some 100,000 NHS workers are yet to get at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, figures show. The above graph shows the percentage that have got their first dose (blue line) and the percentage that have got both doses (orange line)
It comes as Department of Health bosses posted 41,299 positive coronavirus tests in the last 24 hours, down six per cent on last Wednesday’s figure of 43,941.
Cases have fallen week-on-week every day for eleven days barring Monday — a blip that was down to Wales not publishing any infection numbers the previous week.
Hospitalisations remained flat on Saturday, the latest date data is available for. Some 888 patients were admitted with the virus, down 0.7 per cent on the week before.
But deaths are continuing to increase, jumping 4.8 per cent on last week’s total to 217. Changes in fatality levels lag several weeks behind cases because of how long it can take for infected patients to become severely ill.
The figures were published after Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned Britons yesterday that another Christmas lockdown could be on the cards if people act like the pandemic has finished.
England’s deputy chief medical officer said there were ‘hard months to come’ and the country’s infection rate was ‘running hot’ already heading into what is expected to be a tough winter for the NHS.
In one of his now-famous analogies, he added: ‘The final whistle on Covid hasn’t blown yet.’
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