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Care home staff to be ‘legally required to have Covid jabs’

Care home staff in England will be required by law to have a Covid jab in a bid to boost lagging take-up, according to a report.

Details of a paper submitted to the Covid-19 Operations Cabinet sub-committee last week and leaked to the Daily Telegraph show Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have agreed to the proposal in order to protect vulnerable residents.

The Telegraph reports the document, drafted by the Department of Health and Social Care, is about 15 pages long and titled Vaccination as a condition of deployment in adult social care and health settings.

It is understood the document contains a key sentence that reads: "The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State [Hancock] have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to vaccinate social care workers against Covid-19 and have agreed – in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients – to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce."

The paper is also understood to state that Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has set a benchmark of 80 per cent vaccination rate among staff and 90 per among residents for a care home to be deemed safe.

However, fewer than a quarter of homes in London currently meet that benchmark, according to the document, with better performing areas such as south-west England at around half.

The Cabinet sub-committee paper acknowledges that mandating care home workers to have Covid jabs raises difficult questions.

The document warns that a “large” number of staff may leave the social care sector and there would be a  "high risk" of successful legal challenges on human rights and proportionality grounds if the change was made by secondary legislation, which is quicker to pass than primary legislation.

A government spokesman said “no final decisions have been made” but did not rule out jabs being made compulsory for care home staff.

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