August 3, 2021

UK controversy over compulsory vaccination for nursing home staff

Vaccination against the new coronavirus will become compulsory for working in English retirement homes, Minister of Health Matt Hancock confirmed on Wednesday (June 16). Mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers working for the NHS, the UK’s public hospital, is also under consideration, Mr Hancock added. “After careful consultation, we have [pris cette décision] to protect residents ”, he justified, “The vast majority of staff in these establishments are already vaccinated, but not all, and we know that vaccination protects you, but also the others around you”. Workers, NHS staff or even hairdressers working in retirement homes will also have to have received their two doses, but visiting families and friends will be exempt. A law will be passed imposing these measures from next October – leaving sixteen weeks for the staff concerned to be fully vaccinated.

High distrust

Like other health workers, those in retirement homes (there are around 1.5 million in England) were among the first to be called in to receive their vaccine – from the end of 2020. But practitioners have noted for several months that mistrust vis-à-vis the vaccine is quite high among these personnel, rather young, very poorly paid and often from ethnic minorities (blacks, Asians or Eastern Europe).

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According to SAGE, the scientific committee advising the Johnson government, on average 80% of the staff and 90% of the residents of a retirement home must have at least one dose of vaccine for the establishment to be protected from the virus. However, according to the SAGE, only 65% ​​of British retirement homes reach these levels of vaccination, and only 44% of establishments in Greater London, despite the efforts made in the capital to reach out to suspicious populations (“bus” traveling vaccines, vaccine centers in mosques or Hindu temples, etc.).

Imposing vaccination has gone against the posture of the NHS and the government since the start of the vaccination campaign: so far they have relied on extensive communication campaigns and the UK public’s very high confidence in its system and its health workers. But the resurgence of the epidemic due to the Delta variant (11,007 positive cases recorded Thursday, June 17), and the fear of a new wave in the fall, are now pushing them to act. At the beginning of June, the Guardian revealed that, consulted by the government, the British Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had considered that vaccination compulsory “ constitutes a significant change from current policies ”, more than “Prioritize” the protection of the right to life of staff and residents was justified.

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