Sajid Javid says mandatory vaccines for NHS staff is 'under review'

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Sajid Javid 'reflecting' on mandatory Covid vaccines for NHS workers in light of Omicron. (PA/Canva)
Sajid Javid 'reflecting' on mandatory Covid vaccines for NHS workers in light of Omicron. (PA/Canva)

Sajid Javid has admitted that the government is “reflecting” on making the Covid vaccine a mandatory requirement for NHS workers.

The Health Secretary said all Covid policies are being kept “under review” when pressed on the issue of mandatory vaccines and conceded the policy was decided when Delta was still the dominant variant in the UK.

Mr Javid said patient safety was the principle behind the decision to make jabs mandatory, but noted that it was decided when Delta was the dominant variant.

He told the Health and Social Care Committee: “That was the principle and we weighed it up. The dominant variant at the time was Delta, that was the dominant variant. The dominant variant now, in fact, almost all cases, are Omicron.”

Symptoms of Omicron - what you need to know

He said people had “made representations” to him about Omicron being “very different” to Delta, in that while the former is more transmissible it is “intrinsically less severe”.

Mr Javid said while some people had urged him to add boosters to the mandatory requirement, others have called for it to be scrapped altogether.

He said: “I think it is right in light of Omicron that we reflect on all this and keep all Covid policies properly sort of under review.

“Because Omicron is different to Delta. Equally, we don’t know what the next variant is going to be. We talked a bit about that earlier. But we are reflecting on all this.”

NHS have ‘professional duty’ to get Covid vaccine

Sajid Javid said around 77,000 NHS workers remain unvaccinated against coronavirus.

He said it is the “professional duty of every NHS worker to get vaccinated”.

Mr Javid said: “Even before the mandate, the vast, vast majority had. Since the mandate, since we announced a consultation in September, we’ve had around 100,000 in the NHS that were unvaccinated at that point that have come forward. So there’s been a very good response.

“I think now it’s almost 95% of NHS workers that have had at least one jab. The latest numbers I have is that around 77,000 that have not. That is improving every day. Not all 77,000 are in scope because to be in scope is if it’s a patient-facing role, but the majority of those people would be in scope.

“I think it’s also reasonable to assume that not everyone ultimately is going to come forward.”

He said the NHS is asking trusts to set out the estimations for the staff who “will ultimately just not come forward, and then to break down what kind of roles they are and see how they would manage that”.

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