With all the positive news on vaccine progress, many employers are now considering whether they can make having a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory. The quote below from Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat suggests he thinks it will happen across all business. I am much less confident about that and I consider the Government will need to legislate if they want to make vaccination mandatory for all.
Effective infection control within the health and social care settings is critical to protecting the vulnerable from Covid-19 and the earliest possible vaccination of workers in the sector is essential. I hope the vast majority of workers in the sector will agree to be vaccinated. Matt Hancock should lead by example by being one of the first to be vaccinated. However, making vaccination mandatory may well be a step too far.
What about an individual's Human Rights? For decades vaccination has provoked strong feelings and enforced vaccination is seen as a restriction on human rights. There may be a wide range of genuine concerns in relation to the vaccine which lead an individual to refuse consent. Some restrictions on human rights can be justified. We have already experienced this through the pandemic with restrictions on who we can have into our homes and who we can meet with outside. These have been, in the majority of situations, justifiable restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus and protect the most vulnerable.
Vaccination is more invasive so can that be justified in the midst of a pandemic?
If you don't make the vaccine mandatory can staff who haven't been vaccinated still work with vulnerable people?
How else can you maximise vaccine take up?
We have been wrestling with these and other questions with a number of our clients in the social care sector. If your organisation is currently looking to answer these questions let me know if you would value a conversation.
‘If vaccination works and if we’re confident it’s safe, and all indications so far are good, then I can certainly see the day when businesses say: “Look, you’ve got to return to the office and if you’re not vaccinated you’re not coming in.”’