MPs have voted in favour of mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for Care Quality Commission-registered care homes in England. The Government had opened a consultation on requiring staff in care homes to be vaccinated earlier in the year.
From October, care home staff will now need to be fully vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption.
The Government faced criticism of its approach to the vote, including from the Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans and several MPs, having failed to produce adequate data on the impact of the mandate ahead of time.
Take-up of the vaccine among care home staff has been relatively low, with approximately half of care homes reporting over a fifth of staff yet to be vaccinated. There have been concerns, including from trade unions, that making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory in already understaffed sectors will cause further issues with attracting and retaining staff.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this week that healthcare workers would have to be vaccinated by 15 September or risk going unpaid. From August, proof of vaccination will need to be shown for people in the country to enter shops, bars and restaurants or taking long distance trains. Italy recently introduced compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for health workers and pharmacists and across other European countries, proof of vaccination or a recent negative test must be shown to enter some establishments.
Still, the UK decision to mandate vaccines may be open to judicial review and it is likely that there will be public challenges to the new regulations.
Care minister Helen Whately said guidance would be forthcoming, but suggested managers could discuss the vaccine with staff or look at an alternative role for those who did not want to be vaccinated.