The government has confirmed plans to legislate to require 'anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England for residents requiring nursing or personal care' to be vaccinated with two COVID-19 jabs.
Rules that will need to be approved by parliament will apply to 'all workers employed directly by the care home or care home provider on a full-time or part-time basis, those employed by an agency and deployed by the care home, and volunteers deployed in the care home'.
Mandatory vaccination rules will also cover 'those coming into care homes to do other work, for example healthcare workers, tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians, and CQC inspectors' - unless they are medically exempt.
The government said responses to a consultation that closed last month had 'made a case for extending this policy beyond care homes to other settings where people vulnerable to COVID-19 receive care, such as domiciliary care and wider healthcare settings'.
Further consultations are set to follow on whether to go ahead with this expansion of the vaccine mandate.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: 'Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated we need to do everything we can to keep reducing the risk.
'Through our consultation we have listened to the experiences and concerns of providers and people living and working in care homes to help shape our approach.
'We have a responsibility to do all we can to safeguard those receiving care including in the NHS and so will be consulting further on whether to extend to other health and social care workers.
'This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future. I’d urge anyone working in care homes to get their jab as soon as possible.'
Despite the plans for mandatory vaccination for staff, exceptions will apply for 'visiting family and friends, under 18s, emergency services and people undertaking urgent maintenance work', the government has said.
The RCGP spoke out against mandatory vaccination of healthcare staff earlier this year, warning that the move could lead to 'resentment and mistrust'.
The vast majority of doctors have already been vaccinated against COVID-19, but RCGP Professor Martin Marshall said that among those who are not, encouragement to allow educated and informed consent rather than mandating vaccination was preferable.