Consultation launched on staff COVID-19 vaccines in care homes
Staff in care homes with older adult residents in England may be required to have a COVID-19 vaccine to protect residents from the virus.
Making vaccines a condition of deployment would help to further protect older people living in care homes, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, with some providers already implementing similar policies.
Experts on the social care working group of SAGE advise 80% of staff and 90% of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of COVID-19. Only 53% of older adult homes in England are currently meeting this threshold.
This means nearly half of all care homes with older adult residents, home to 150,000 vulnerable people, don’t meet SAGE’s recommended vaccination thresholds for care homes and staff.
Currently the staff vaccination rate is below 80% in 89 local authority areas – more than half – and all 32 London boroughs. There are 27 local authority areas with a staff vaccination rate below 70%.
The vaccine has already had a significant impact on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, with more than 10,000 lives saved between December and March but as we progress through the roadmap and restrictions begin to ease, it is vital we continue to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
A 5-week consultation has been launched looking at requiring care home providers, caring for older adults, to deploy only those workers who have received their COVID-19 vaccination to further protect residents who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and staff.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of COVID-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group.
"Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives. The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to COVID-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe."
This requirement will not include those who can provide evidence of a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination.