More than two thirds (70%) of home care providers in the UK believe that vaccination against coronavirus should be made compulsory for the workforce, according to a new survey.
The survey, conducted by United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) between 23-26 March 2021, found that 50% ‘strongly support’ and 20% ‘support’ some form of legal requirement for home care staff to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
The news comes after a leaked document revealed that the government is considering putting in place legislation to make vaccination mandatory for the entire social care workforce.
Responses to the survey were received from 579 providers, representing over 25% of UKHCA’s nearly 2,300 members.
The most common reasons given for supporting compulsory vaccination were: protection of recipients of homecare, including users’ expectations; protection of members of the workforce; and reduction of community transmission of the virus.
Of the remaining 30% of respondents, 7% are unsure; 11% oppose; and 13% strongly oppose compulsory vaccination.
Of the 23% of respondents who oppose or strongly oppose compulsory vaccination, the most common reasons given were: infringement of workers’ rights or choice; workers’ reluctance to be vaccinated, anticipated side effects, etc; and negative impact on recruitment.
The findings were published in a recent blog post by UKHCA chief executive Dr Jane Townson and policy director Colin Angel, who also shared their views on compulsory vaccination for care staff.
They said: “As we are only two to three months into the COVID-19 vaccination programme for homecare workers, our preference for now is to continue to encourage voluntary uptake of vaccination.
“If, however, it proves difficult to achieve close to complete voluntary take-up of vaccination of the homecare workforce over time, our research indicates that the majority of our members would support a requirement for vaccination as a condition of employment in homecare in future.”
Dr Townson and Angel said ensuring easy access to vaccination is key and called on the government to re-open the National Booking System, which was recently closed for care workers.
“Addressing concerns of careworkers regarding vaccination is also important and we value the online resources available to assist with this,” they added.
The UKHCA executives made it clear that mandatory vaccination in social care is a “controversial and polarising topic” that must be handled sensitively, balancing the rights of people receiving care and those giving care.
They said: “There is no suggestion that people should be forced to have a vaccination against their will. Rather, people would have a choice about whether or not they work in a sector in future where vaccination could become a requirement. There is of course a risk that this could further exacerbate challenges of recruitment and retention in the care sector.”
Click here to read a lawyer’s perspective on compulsory vaccination for the social care workforce.