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The government has published its response to its consultation on making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline workers in health and social care settings in England and has confirmed that it will now bring forward regulations to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement. The regulations will cover all those who have direct, face-to-face contact with service users, including doctors, nurses, dentists, domiciliary care workers, porters, receptionists, cleaners, volunteers, agency workers and trainees (unless they are exempt). The requirement will apply across the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated health and social care sector, whether they are publicly or privately funded.
This means health and social care workers will need to have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccination in order to continue to be deployed. Some individuals will be exempt from the regulations:
- those under the age of 18
- those who are clinically exempt from COVID-19 vaccination
- those who have taken part or are currently taking part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine
- those who do not have direct, face to face contact with a service user, for example, those providing care remotely, such as through triage or telephone consultations, or managerial staff working in sites apart from patient areas
- those providing care as part of a shared lives agreement.
The requirement will come into force in the spring, subject to the passage of the regulations through Parliament. There will be a 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force to allow those who have not yet been vaccinated to have both doses. Enforcement would begin from 1 April 2022, subject to Parliamentary approval.
The requirement will only cover COVID-19 vaccinations, not flu vaccinations.