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Mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for NHS staff could be scrapped in the coming days, according to a new report.
Under original plans, frontline NHS workers must be fully vaccinated by April 1 this year. Just last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said while this requirement was being 'kept under review', it was the 'duty' of healthcare staff to get vaccinated against coronavirus.
However, the government has been under increasing pressure within the health service, as well as from anti-vaxxers around the country, amid concerns the mandate could lead to a staffing crisis, with nearly 80,000 workers warned they could be ousted from their jobs if they refuse at least two doses.
As reported by The Telegraph, Javid is set to meet with ministers in the Covid-Operations Cabinet committee today, January 31, to confirm the U-turn. This change is said to highlight Downing Street's focus on 'learning to live with COVID', as well as Omicron being a less severe variant.
'Omicron has changed things. When we first introduced the policy, it was delta that was the dominant variant. That was very high risk in terms of how severe it was. For Omicron, while it is more transmissible, all the studies have shown it is less severe. That has changed the conversation about whether mandatory jabs are still proportionate,' a senior government source told the publication.
The right decision @sajidjavid - these free thinking NHS workers jobs are saved and quite right too. Well done all those who had the courage to stand up for the values of a free society! https://t.co/fcuua75AmR— Andrew Rosindell MP (@AndrewRosindell) January 30, 2022
Around 40,000 care home workers are estimated to have lost their jobs after mandatory vaccines were enforced in November last year. The Royal College of Midwives also warned the policy could have a 'catastrophic impact' on maternity services, while other NHS staff simply don't believe the arguments for the vaccine.
Matt Taylor, a specialist paramedic who works in Cumbria, told BBC News, 'We all know people who are triple jabbed and they've still got COVID or they've not been jabbed and they haven't got it. It's not like the vaccine has eradicated COVID like some vaccines have done in the past, so I find the argument for the science a bit weak.'
A huge win. My backbench colleagues & I have been pushing hard to spare the sack for tens of thousands of NHS & care workers.— Mark Harper (@Mark_J_Harper) January 30, 2022
It beggars belief that the PM & Health Secretary kept insisting on bulldozing this policy through, despite warnings of staff shortages, for so long. https://t.co/K8UMsbHTHd
Vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation, and furthermore, death.
The mandatory vaccine policy was only set to be rolled out in England, with neither Scotland nor Wales having any plans to make COVID jabs a requirement for NHS workers or care home staff, and a public consultation set to take place in Northern Ireland.
It's unclear when the government will announce the U-turn, but it could be as soon as this week, prior to the February 3 deadline for NHS workers to receive one dose of the vaccine.
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