The Covid-19 vaccine

The vaccination programmes are managed by the health departments in each UK country or crown dependency. Information on arrangements for each territory can be found in the FAQs below.

The CSP supports vaccination as a key public health intervention which saves lives and reduces the chances of debilitating long-term illnesses including Covid.

Vaccines are tested and shown to be both safe and effective. We therefore 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. We therefore believe that vaccination should remain voluntary.

In prioritising vaccine programmes we believe that the disproportionate health outcomes for Black and Asian people should be considered as a significant risk factor. People from BAME backgrounds should have a higher priority for Covid vaccination.

We support members across all sectors in delivering vaccination programmes, but believe vaccination programmes and services should seek to minimise impacts on vital patient care. We therefore welcome initiatives to use the independent sector and returners to the profession as vaccinators.

We welcome the acceptance of governments that all frontline health and care staff, regardless of which sector they work in, should be high priorities for Covid vaccination. We also believe this should apply to students on placements involving face-to-face patient contact.

Vaccine mandating

The government is introducing Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment for all frontline health and social care workers

Health and social care providers in England will be required to ensure workers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, unless they are exempt, under plans announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary.

This policy does not supersede, but sits alongside, the previously announced regulations requiring anyone working in a CQC-regulated care home to be vaccinated by Thursday 11 November.

The regulations that introduce VCOD across health and wider social care settings will include some amendments to the existing care home regulations. Once approved by Parliament, these amendments will take effect in the coming months.

Which staff will this affect?

The regulations will apply to health and social care workers including volunteers who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care – such as doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists and domiciliary care workers, unless they are exempt. They will also apply to ancillary staff such as porters or receptionists who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in their care under new measures announced on 9 November.


Who is the regulator?

The Care Quality Commission.


Why is the government implementing this policy?

The policy aims to ensure patients and staff are protected against infection.


What services are covered?

Regulations will require Care Quality Commission registered services to only allow fully vaccinated or exempt staff to treat patients.


When will it take effect?

The Secretary of State has said he wants the requirement to be in place in April 2022.There will be a 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force to allow those who have not yet been vaccinated to have both doses. Enforcement would begin from 1 April, subject to parliamentary approval. This will allow time for health and social care providers to prepare and encourage workers uptake before the measures are introduced.


What exemptions are there?

We expect medical exemptions may be granted which reflect the Green Book on Immunisation against infectious disease, chapter 14a and clinical advice from the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

This government policy takes into account specific exemptions, including those who are medically exempt; under 18 years of age; do not have contact with patients; or are a participant in a clinical trial investigating Covid-19 vaccination.

Further details on exemptions will be detailed within the DHSC Code of Practice which the NHS is expecting to be published imminently.

The policy applies to the first and second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.


What is the exemption process?

We await confirmation but in care homes staff will have to use the NHS Covid Pass.


Does this apply to students?

We are awaiting confirmation, but in social care placement students over 18 are covered by the existing requirement.


Are boosters and flu vaccinations being made mandatory?

No.


What is the situation of someone vaccinated abroad?

We understand that most overseas vaccinations will usually be accepted but some staff may need a booster. We are awaiting further advice.


What options might there be for members who don’t want to be vaccinated?

This currently differs in the Care and Health sectors in England, and is currently not relevant in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

Although Northern Ireland are looking at a similar requirement in both health and social care settings.

Care sector

Legislation has been passed by the English parliament that makes it a legal requirement for any person providing services in a CQC registered care setting to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to undertake any work.

CSP members that enter a building that meets this definition, are legally required to provide the care home manager, or a person they designate to undertake the checks, with their vaccination status.

Failure to do so, unless they are able to show a valid exemption, would mean the member is unable to access the home in order to provide any care to a resident.

The CSP would only be able to offer advice on the legislative requirements and ensure that any internal processes undertaken with a member by their employer were fair and followed the required legislation.

We may also review whether redeployment may be an option or if there were any grounds to suggest potential discrimination.

The level and manner of support available would only be able to be decided on a case by case basis.

Health sector

Currently there is no legislation that requires staff in England to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The health secretary has stated it to be his intention that this will be the case from 1 April 2022.

Therefore, we need to wait in order to see the detail, however I would expect this to mirror that of the care sector, and wait for the legislation to be passed by MP’s at some stage in the near future.

Currently

As of 10 November 2021, CSP members working in health settings do not have to provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, in order to undertake their work.

Members may find that their employer starts to ask them about their vaccination status, in order to pre-empt the legislative requirements that are expected to be brought forward to enact the plans announced by the health secretary.

This may well be seen as a reasonable management request, and we would advise members to provide this information.

CSP stewards can support individual queries that members may have, whilst in workplaces without a steward, members should review the FAQ’s available on the website and contact the CSP where these have not answered their questions

As and when legislation is passed for the health and care sector

Where CSP members are not vaccinated against Covid-19, and they are not classed as exempt within the regulations laid, the CSP would support members who are taken through a formal process by their employer.

The level and manner of support would be dependent on a review of each case on its circumstances, however, broadly we would support:

  • a fair process being undertaken
  • review whether the member may be exempt under the Equality Act 2021
  • whether there may be any discrimination against the member
  • if redeployment may be an option

Does this announcement apply to this England only?

The announcement only covers services in England, but Northern Ireland are conducting their own consultation on mandatory vaccinations for new staff.


What if I am anxious about receiving the vaccine?

Being anxious about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine will not automatically be classed as an exemption.

The Equality Act says a disability is a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day- to-day activities.

These include activities such as washing, talking, walking, cleaning, concentrating or forming social relationships.

A substantial effect may mean that something cannot be undertaken, or is impacted greatly, whilst long term tends to mean having lasted or likely to last over a year, or lifetime where life expectancy is less than a year.


Are self-employed physios obliged to be vaccinated?

Compulsory vaccination covers services regulated by the CQC in England only. Self employed private practitioners and some partnership based businesses are exempt from CQC registration. However if you go into care or nursing homes or provide services in GP surgeries or some other settings you will need to be vaccinated to practice in these settings.


Can we take industrial action against the vaccine mandate?

No. You cannot take industrial action against an employer that is carrying out its duty to meet a legislated/legal requirement.


When will I be able to receive the vaccine?

This will depend on where you live.

England

The NHS Covid-19 vaccination booking service or 119 telephone service allows any person to self-refer for a vaccine appointment if they are:

  • aged 12  to 16 years for their first dose
  • aged 16 years and over for their first and second dose

There are also local walk-in coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination sites that do not require appointments. They can be attended by anyone aged 16 or over.

Booster vaccination

You can use NHS Covid-19 vaccination booking service or telephone on 119 to book an appointment for a booster dose if it's been 152 days (5 months) since your 2nd dose and you're in one of the these groups:

  • aged 40 and over
  • aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19
  • frontline health and social care workers. 
    ​​​​As part of the booking process, you will need to self-declare you are a frontline health care worker. When booking, you will be advised on the evidence you will need to provide at the vaccination site as of proof of employment.

From 26 November people who are severely immunosuppressed can book their third vaccination through the  NHS national booking system

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)  advise that all severely immunosuppressed individuals should be offered their booster dose no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of 3 doses.

You do not need to wait for the NHS to contact you first.

Further information:

  • *We would recommend that self-employed physiotherapists print their HCPC entry along with photo ID (passport or driving licence). You could also take a business card or any proof you may have of your business registration (if relevant).

  • Boosters may be given slightly earlier to those at highest risk, where this makes operational sense to do so. This includes care home residents who may have received their second doses at different times to be vaccinated in the same session, as long as it has been five months since their second dose. It may also help with other vulnerable groups, such as housebound patients, so that they can have their flu and Covid-19 vaccines at the same time.

  • For more information on the Covid-19 booster vaccination rollout read: Covid-19 vaccination: booster dose resources

(Last updated 29 November 2021)


Wales

All adults in Wales aged 18 and over are now eligible for vaccination. Anyone who has not been invited for their vaccine can contact their health board for an appointment.


Northern Ireland

All adults aged 18 and over are eligible for vaccination. For more information visit:


Scotland

All adults aged 18 and over on (and including) 31 October 2021 are now eligible for vaccination. For more information visit NHS Inform.

Booster Vaccinations

The health and social care workers portal is open via NHS Inform for eligible practitioners to arrange vaccination.


Crown dependencies

Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are following the same approach as the UK. Physios and physio support workers across all sectors are in the second tier of priority for vaccinations.

Isle of Man

Anyone aged 18 years and over, or is three months away from turning 18, is now able to register for a vaccine. Additionally, 16- and 17-year-olds are able to now register their interest for a vaccine. There are two ways to register for your vaccination:

Channel Islands

The CSP has asked the public health authorities in Guernsey and Jersey to clarify arrangements for members across all sectors. Updates will be posted here.

  • Guernsey: all residents aged 18 years or over are eligible for vaccination. You can book your appointment by contacting the Vaccination Call Centre on 01481 220006.
  • Jersey: all residents aged 16 and over are eligible for vaccination. You can book your appointment online.

Am I eligible for a booster Covid-19 vaccination?

The government is now rolling out booster doses to individuals who received a vaccination in Phase 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme (priority groups 1-9). This includes: 

  • all adults aged 40 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers **
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 (as set out in the Green Book) and adult carers
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

People aged 12 and over with severely weakened immune systems may receive a letter from their hospital consultant or GP sooner if they are eligible for a booster vaccine dose.


For more information, read the JCVI statement on a third primary dose vaccination.

** As part of the booking process, health and care workers will need to self-declare as a frontline healthcare worker. When booking, you will be advised on the evidence you will need to provide at the vaccination site as of proof of employment. We would recommend that self-employed physiotherapists print their HCPC entry along with photo ID (passport or driving licence). You could also take a business card or any proof you may have of your business registration (if relevant).

(Last updated 23 November 2021)


Are children eligible for the vaccination?

(Last updated 23 November 2021)


Are vaccinations already mandatory for NHS staff?

It is not currently mandatory (i.e. required by law) for healthcare staff to be immunised. For further guidance, this is covered by Public Health England’s Green Book: Chapter 12 Immunisation of healthcare and laboratory staff.

However, it is important to check your own Trust’s staff immunisation policy as they may have their own requirements to work in specific clinical areas. For example, Trusts may require staff to prove that they have been vaccinated or are immune to Hepatitis B before carrying out exposure prone procedures.


 Covid-19 status certification

What does the CSP think about 'vaccine passports'?

  • The CSP has submitted a response to the UK government consultation on Covid-19 status certification. Read the full statement:

Can I restrict group sessions or individual treatment to people who have been fully vaccinated?

No. The CSP does not support the practice of asking patients about their vaccination status. Vaccination status is a person’s private health information and is therefore special category data under the Data Protection Act. You must not use vaccination status as a factor in determining who can access your services as this may lead to an allegation of discrimination against you.

The Information Commissioner's Office provides clear guidance that sets out that if you are collecting vaccination status details, then you must make it clear to people how you will use that information via your privacy notices. 

You can find more information and resources on how to remain safe while treating patients and your rights and responsibilities in the Personal protective equipment (PPE) – guidance, resources and FAQs section.


Can I ask people to declare their Covid-19 vaccine status when they apply for educational courses that I am running?

No. Subject to national requirements and any local restrictions that may be in place, members may be able to restart offering in-person educational courses. The CSP does not support the practice of asking course applicants about their vaccination status.

Vaccination status is a person’s private health information and is therefore special category data under the Data Protection Act. The Information Commissioner's Office provides clear guidance that sets out that if you are collecting vaccination status details of employees, then you must make it clear to people how you will use that information via your privacy notices . These principles may also apply to requests for vaccination status in other settings such as educational course provision. You must not use vaccination status as a factor in determining who can attend your courses as this may lead to an allegation of discrimination against you.


Do I need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to deliver physiotherapy services in care homes?

From 11 November 2021 care homes must only allow individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (or exempt) entry inside of a care home. This requirement will apply to healthcare workers visiting a care home in a professional capacity. Healthcare professionals must provide the care home with satisfactory evidence that:

  • they have been vaccinated with the complete course of an authorised Covid-19 vaccine
  • or they are exempt for medical reasons

You can find out more in the Department of Health and Social Care guidance issued to care homes. NHS England and Improvement is due to issue specific guidance for healthcare professionals who visit care homes. 

ACAS has produced advice on the new government rules around the vaccination of healthcare staff working in care homes. For more information read: ACAS: vaccination in care homes in England.

(Updated 15 September 2021)


I deliver physiotherapy in a care home but I am unable to have a Covid-19 vaccine for medical reasons. What should I do?

If you are a healthcare worker visiting or working in a care home in a professional capacity and have a medical reason why you are unable to have a Covid-19 vaccine you will be able to self-certify.

The Department for Health and Social Care has published information on the self certification process and Covid-19 medical exemptions: proving you are unable to get vaccinated:

>You will be able to self-certify a medical exemption until 24 December 2021. From 25 December 2021 you will no longer be able to self-certify a medical exemption.

Instead you must, by that date, have applied for and obtained proof that you have a medical exemption. You will then need to use the NHS Covid Pass system to show you are exempt.

There are several exemptions set out in the government regulations. The DHSC operational guidance provides further guidance about those exemptions.


We will update these FAQs as any further information becomes available

Further resources

Last reviewed: