Vaccination 'should remain voluntary' - CSP

The CSP has insisted Covid-19 vaccinations should remain voluntary as the government signals a move towards enforcing them as a condition of work

Vaccine injection image

Health secretary Sajid Javid told reporters this week he was 'leaning towards' compulsory vaccines for NHS staff.

But the CSP in its submission to the government consultation on  mandatory vaccination for frontline health and care staff argued, ‘We encourage all members and patients for whom vaccinations are recommended to be vaccinated. We recognise, however, that a person’s individual state of health, or personal beliefs, may mean that vaccination is not appropriate for everyone.’

Supporting a voluntary vaccination, the CSP pointed out that vaccinations should be combined with Covid-19 prevention measures in crowded and enclosed spaces to reduce the rate of transmission.

It also sounded a note of caution, highlighting that vaccines do not remove 100% risk of transmission and therefore vaccinations as a condition of deployment could create a false sense of security.

With antibodies becoming less effective over time, other measures should be prioritised, the CSP argued.

Pointing out that take up of the vaccination is already very high within the NHS, it called for transparent and regular reporting of progress on the vaccination offer to help to build confidence in the fairness, safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

CSP assistant director Jim Fahie said, ‘We continue to encourage all of our members to be vaccinated as a safe and effective way in helping us to move out of this pandemic.

But vaccine compulsion is a blunt instrument to tackle what is a complex issue and may just lead to some staff leaving.

‘Frontline physiotherapists and physiotherapy support workers are telling us they are at breaking point, so making vaccination a condition of employment risking further staff shortages and eroding our members’ goodwill is simply not acceptable.

‘The government should focus their resources on understanding the reasons behind why the small number of NHS staff are choosing not to be vaccinated, and focus their efforts on education and support measures rather than mandating which has been shown to harden attitudes against vaccines.’

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