“Reasonable” to require care home staff to be vaccinated, says UK’s human rights watchdog

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 6:10 pm
The UK’s human rights watchdog has said it is “reasonable” to legally require care home staff to be vaccination against Covid-19 (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK’s human rights watchdog has said it is “reasonable” to legally require care home staff to be vaccination against Covid-19.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said a proportionate approach to requiring care home workers to be vaccinated against Covid could help ease restrictions, as well as allowing staff to work in a safe environment and give more freedom to residents.

However, the watchdog has said the Government should include important safeguards and minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions in legislation, for example for those who cannot have the jab for medical reasons.

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‘It is therefore reasonable to require care home staff to be vaccinated in order to work directly with older and disabled people’

The Government held a consultation over a period of five weeks on making vaccination a condition of deployment for staff at older adult care homes in England.

In its submission to the consultation, the EHRC acknowledged that the requirement of a Covid vaccine would be a “significant departure” from current health policy, but said there is some precedent, and that the move could protect service users who are at particular risk from coronavirus.

The submission reads: “In legislating for mandatory vaccination the Government is right to prioritise protection of the right to life for residents and staff.

“In our view it is therefore reasonable to require care home staff to be vaccinated in order to work directly with older and disabled people, subject to some important safeguards to ensure the requirement remains proportionate and to minimise the risk of unlawful discrimination or breaches of care workers’ human rights.”

An EHRC spokesman said: “Requiring care home staff to be vaccinated offers a way of protecting older residents who are most at risk of severe illness and death due to Covid-19.This would support their right to a private and family life, to health, to live independently, as well as reducing the risk to workers.

“Any requirements should be implemented proportionately with exemptions for the small number of people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

“Mandatory vaccination it is not a new idea, as some NHS Trusts do require staff to have hepatitis B vaccines.”