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The Ethics Surrounding a Mandatory Vaccine

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Panoramic Care Blog, Insights, Panoramic Nursing...

This year, new laws come in to force requiring compulsory vaccinations for everyone working in care homes.

It 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.

Although care home residents should be better protected from serious illness following confirmation people working in care homes will be fully vaccinated, some question whether it is ethical.  

Working within senior level recruitment consultancy, operating largely across Healthcare and Nursing, this conversation has been quite the topic of conversation. For this reason, we recently conducted a poll so that we could fairly consider the thoughts of our network and succinctly examine both sides of the argument. So we asked our network, do you think the COVID vaccine should be mandatory for care home employees?  

A common theme throughout our research over the past week is that a mandatory vaccine is a required policy to reduce risk. Out of the 55% that agreed that it was necessary, most commented that it is no different to needing a DBS, no different to needing the Yellow Fever vaccine to go travelling, no different to wearing a hard hat on a building site. It is a risk reduction measure to protect our most vulnerable.  

However, 32% of the poll faced this opinion with difference. As the vaccine does not stop you from contracting the virus, then regular testing of the staff would be the only effective measure in reducing the spread of the infection. Though 13% of voters were undecided, a common theme amongst these was that freedom of choice is a human right, and a mandatory vaccine for employees in care homes may be considered as coercion.  

A question we must also ask ourselves is, will this lead to staff shortages? We received many responses suggesting a compulsory vaccine will be the cause workers leaving the profession, resulting in an inevitable industry-wide crisis. Previous government analysis in its impact report predicts that around 40,000 staff will lose their jobs as result of refusing the vaccine; though ‘the majority are in favour, but they still could lose a huge number of care home staff’ ( 

Contrastingly, it is widely thought that people have the right to decline the vaccine, however, they do not have the right to continue to work in a sector which requires them to hold certain requirements if they refuse. If they wish to work with the most vulnerable, then they need to ensure they have reduced all foreseeable risks. Employment risk reduction already exists in all sectors involving vulnerable groups; the necessity for an enhanced DBS if your occupation involves carrying out sensitive regulated activity, for example, so this is no different. 

Refusing the vaccine does not automatically mean that you are not putting the interests of your residents first, when on the other side of the coin, some maintain that it is still a choice, but it’s also a choice to work in that particular sector. Will this lead to industry-wide disruption? 

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