Update on mandatory Covid vaccinations in care homes

In the last edition of the newsletter, I explained what the new regulations were regarding covid vaccinations for those working in the care sector.

There have since been further updates in relation to this and I thought that it would serve good purpose to everyone (even if this doesn’t apply to your business) to know what these updates are.

The initial position

In my last article (which can be read here ) I set out that those working in care homes will need to be double vaccinated otherwise employees face being dismissed unless they are exempt for medical reasons.

The justification behind the proposals (which are to be introduced in November 2021) were that it protected care home residents from serious illness or death related to Covid-19 infections.

to show a vaccine

The updates

1. Temporary self-certification system for those medically exempt from the vaccination

When the information was first published there was not a lot of detail relating to the medical exemption element of the new regime.

On 15 September 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care published a letter advising those who work in the care sector that cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons can on a temporary basis, self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria. 

Examples of medical exemptions set out in the letter include those:

  • receiving end of life care where vaccination is not in the individual’s interests;
  • with learning disabilities or autistic individuals, or with a combination of impairments which result in the same distress, who find vaccination and testing distressing; because of their condition and cannot be achieved through reasonable adjustments such as provision of an accessible environment;
  • with medical contraindications to the vaccines such as severe allergy to all COVID-19 vaccines or their constituents;
  • who have had adverse reactions to the first dose (for example, myocarditis).

The self-certification form will need to be completed by workers who claim they meet a medical exemption. Once the Covid Pass system is introduced the self-certification will expire after 12 weeks and workers will then need to apply for a formal medical exemption.

The form can be found HERE

2. Judicial review proceedings issued against the Government’s implementation of mandatory vaccination for care home workers

In addition to the temporary self-certification measures brought in, two care home staff have brought judicial review proceedings challenging the Government’s decision to introduce the mandatory requirement of vaccinations.

The care home staff are seeking an order for the vaccination rules to be rendered null and void and the challenge is being brought under the following five grounds:

  • The Health Secretary failed to consider the effectiveness of alternatives to mandatory vaccination and failed to consider the vaccination rate of care homes and/or persons with natural immunity.
  • The regulations are incompatible with laws prohibiting the enforcement of mandatory vaccines.
  • The regulations interfere with the public’s right to “bodily integrity” and is severe, unnecessary, and disproportionate.
  • The regulations will disproportionately impact women and those who identify as Black/Caribbean/Black British, in contravention of Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The regulations are irrational and will lead to shortages in both frontline and non-frontline care workers. The Government has predicted that 7% of care home workers which is approximately 40,000 staff out of 570,000 will refuse to have the vaccine.

Going forward

In light of the above two points, it is clear that there will be further updates to come on this which will probably affect how the vaccination is applied in the future for those working in other sectors.

Watch this space for developments and to see if it has any impact on your sector. 

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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