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Mandatory Vaccination for Health & Care Workers

This article was first published on the website of the Advocacy for Health and Social Care Professionals Union, of which the editor-in-chief of Logica Tribune was executive chair. The union is no longer in operation but the statement has been republished as a blog post here for the informational benefit of our readers.

The Government Mandate

On 10 December 2021, further to consultation, the government announced its decision that health and social care workers will have to comply to a covid-19 vaccination mandate in order to continue to work in England (other UK countries are currently not affected). The full statement regarding this outcome can be found here. The mandate will come into effect on 01 April 2022. Unvaccinated workers are required to receive their first dose by 03 February 2022 and the second dose by 31 March 2022.

The government has issued a separate document (published 06 December 2021) - 'Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD) for Healthcare Workers' - providing mandatory vaccination guidance for employers in England.

Mandate Exemptions

There are limited medical exemptions allowed for those who meet the following criteria:

  • people receiving end of life care where vaccination is not in the person’s best interests

  • people with learning disabilities, autism or a combination of impairments which mean that vaccination and testing result in distress and who cannot be vaccinated through reasonable adjustments such as an accessible environment

  • a person with severe allergies to all currently available vaccines

  • those who have had an adverse reaction to the first dose (for example, myocarditis)

  • Other medical conditions could also allow you to get a medical exemption.

  • You can also get a temporary exemption which will allow you to use the COVID Pass if you have a short-term medical condition or are pregnant and choose to take this option.

Please see full government guidance on this here.

The Legislation

The NHS has faced unprecedented challenges from the onset of the coronavirus. It is fair to say that all health and social care workers welcome effective measures to stem the tide of infection amongst workers and service users. We agree that the government should undertake all reasonable and practical measures to promote safety in the workplace and in the public, which is permitted in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

It should be noted, however, that Section 45E of this legislation prohibits the government from forcing individuals to undertake medical treatment, including vaccination. As it stands, this legislation does not permit the government to mandate vaccinations for the wider public but the government can enforce mandatory vaccination in employment and can encourage businesses to do the same. The above legislation therefore does not entitle health and care workers to refuse vaccination while in employment. Please visit the UK Human Rights Blog for a review of unsuccessful legal challenges against vaccination mandates in employment.

Health and Social Care Workers' Response to Mandate

At the time of writing, it is estimated that approximately 100,000 health and care workers have not yet been vaccinated. While vaccine hesitancy amongst these workers has not dominated the headlines before now, this issue rose to the forefront recently when a televised interaction between Dr Steve James (Kings College Hospital) and Sajid Javid (Health Secretary) received widespread attention. In this footage, Mr Javid asks a group of nurses about their views on the mandate. Their awkward silence and body language of discomfort in response was obvious, prompting Dr James to interject with a response. This exchange, as well as Dr James expounding on his views in a later interview, can be seen here.

Our Response to the Mandate

We respect and reiterate the individual's right to take or to refuse the vaccine. We believe that this right to choose should be rigorously protected and we stand in solidarity with health and social care workers whatever their choice. Unfortunately, we cannot provide any union protections for those who do not wish to be vaccinated. As such, we have instead provided an overview of additional data to ensure that workers have access to scientific data not being discussed in mainstream media. In particular, we aim to provide moral support to those who have chosen not to be vaccinated. It is no way our intention to frighten or judge those who have taken or plan to take the vaccine. We believe the information we provide will be essential to all - vaccinated or unvaccinated.

We feel strongly that it is unreasonable to automatically label those who are vaccine hesitant as 'conspiracy theorists' and 'anti-vaxxers'. There are numerous well-educated, highly-experienced medical and scientific professionals who accept that vaccination can be a highly effective form of treatment, but who also have grave concerns around the safety of mRNA vaccination for the treatment of covid-19 and the accuracy of the statistical data driving government response.

The government has repeatedly asserted that vaccination is the best protection against covid-19 infection and insists that its decision-making has been driven by accurate scientific data. However, we are concerned that the government may not be taking all relevant data into account. For example, at least one UK research paper, the British Medical Journal, raises serious concerns around the integrity of data produced in the Pfizer vaccine trial. Data such as this should not be ignored while insisting that the vaccines are 'safe'.

That covid-19 was manufactured in a lab is almost a matter of certainty. At the time of writing, Dr Anthony Fauci (Chief Medical Advisor to the President) is being subjected to political interrogation regarding US funding to the Chinese for the development of gain-of-function viruses. This previously unknown information implies that he had a role in the intentional creation of the covid-19 virus. The reasons are possibly indicated in a panel discussion at a October 2019 Milken Institute conference with scientists and medics - including Dr Fauci - suggesting that an intentional pandemic caused by a virus would instigate the need for a 'universal vaccine'. (see full panel discussion here). We must be willing to consider whether there are possible political and economical agendas that have driven government behaviour and decision-making during what we have been told is a pandemic.

It is our strong view that both sides of the vaccination argument should be thoroughly and publicly explored to allow workers and the public to make an informed choice about vaccination. We believe it is unethical to enforce mandates while the mainstream discussion on vaccination remains imbalanced and unchallenged.

We wish to present some comprehensive, reliable data that we think should be openly included in the vaccination discussion. To review this, please click here.

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