New Law Change – Mandatory Vaccinations for Care Home Staff

26th October 2021

New Law Change – Mandatory Vaccinations for Care Home Staff

A recent law change means that from 11 November 2021, it will be mandatory for most care home staff to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated unless they are medically exempt or under the age of 18. This change is regulated by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (“Regulations”) and affects CQC-registered care homes. If not double vaccinated, staff will be unable to enter their place of work, save in certain limited cases.

Making vaccination compulsory raises several ethical, legal and practical questions. It has been suggested that the new legislation is in breach of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 which specifically prevents ministers from making vaccinations mandatory. However, given that the Regulations do not specifically require staff to have the vaccine per se – they are not compelled to do so, although their employers will be required to deny them access to the workplace if they don’t (unless exempt) – the matter is open to debate. It’s perhaps unsurprising that two care home workers have commenced judicial review proceedings against the Health Secretary, questioning the legality of the new rules.

These vaccine entry rules do not apply to residents who live there nor the relatives who visit them. Relatives therefore do not need to show vaccination status. This decision was based on the view that it would be unjustifiably detrimental to residents to deprive them of contact with, and care from, their loved ones.

There are large numbers of vulnerable individuals requiring care and assistance throughout the pandemic. Vaccination was deemed the best way staff can protect themselves and their patients from the effects of the virus. The Regulations aim to protect public health and will affect the majority of care home staff working to look after elderly residents.

Consultation began on 9 September 2021 on making mandatory vaccinations a condition of frontline workers in the health and care setting. This means the Regulations may be extended to larger categories of individuals in the near future – that is if the judicial review proceedings don’t scupper the Government’s plans. Notwithstanding the legal challenge, employers must comply with the Regulations from 11 November 2021.

If you require further advice on the implications of these changes, please contact Marie Allen on 01473 298133 or by email at [email protected]

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