Care workers can opt-out of COVID vaccinations on medical grounds

COVID vaccine

People who are working or volunteering in care homes will be able to declare themselves “medically exempt” from having the COVID-19 vaccine.

The update, announced by the government yesterday, comes amid growing concern that COVID and flu vaccinations will be made a condition of deployment for home care staff.

On a temporary basis, people working in care homes will be able to self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria. Exemptions include: terminal illness, a learning difficulty, autism or allergy to vaccine.

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And once the NHS COVID Pass system is launched, care home workers will need to apply for a formal medical exemption through that process.

This temporary self-certification will expire 12 weeks after the NHS COVID Pass system is launched.

Commenting on the news at the Dementia, Care & Nursing Home Expo, Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, said eleventh hour guidance on exemptions to mandatory care staff vaccination are “not at all helpful” and represent a “human resource nightmare for employers”.

She explained that the updated advice, which was issued a day before today’s deadline for people to get their first jab in order to be fully vaccinated by the government’s 11th November deadline, lacked clarity and made it “impossible for employers to make the right decision”.

The government launched a consultation last week on making vaccination a condition of deployment for all health and social care workers, including home care staff.

Staff, healthcare providers, stakeholders, patients and their families are being urged to share their views on plans to make COVID-19 and flu vaccines mandatory for frontline staff, with a final decision expected this winter.

The six-week consultation will seek views on the proposals, its scope, and any potential impact it could have on staffing and safety, such as reducing staff sickness absence.

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke