The Government is exploring whether to make it compulsory for all NHS workers to be immunised against Covid-19.
As it emerged on Tuesday (June 15) that all care home workers will need to be fully vaccinated from October – subject to parliamentary approval and a subsequent 16-week grace period – the Guardian reported that the Government will shortly launch a consultation on whether this should be extended to all 1.38 million people in England who are directly employed by the NHS.
This follows hints from vaccine rollout minister Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) who told the BBC in May that it “would be irresponsible of us as a government and ministers [not to consider making the jab compulsory for NHS workers] because clearly people being infected in hospital through covid”.
It is unclear as yet whether ministers have considered making vaccinations compulsory for all community pharmacy workers, in addition to staff directly employed by the health service.
When approached by Pharmacy Network News, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson declined to comment, simply responding: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated."
A Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesperson told PNN they did not support compulsory vaccinations for the sector: “We actively and strongly encourage all pharmacists to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and to get vaccinated unless there is a medical reason why they are unable to.
“We do not agree with making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, as informed and educated choices about health interventions would be more beneficial long-term than enforcing them."
General practice pharmacist David Miller told PNN that in his view Covid-19 vaccination should be mandatory “for pharmacies providing services with significant patient contact,” while Sheffield pharmacist Martin Bennett said: “We should be leading the way and may be already.”