UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Oct. 25 that he was “leaning towards” introducing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for staff of the National Health Service (NHS).
“We’ve yet to make a final decision, but I’m leaning towards doing it,” he told Sky News. “If they haven’t got vaccinated by now, then there is an issue about patient safety, and that’s something the government will take very seriously.”
Javid said he wanted to replicate in the NHS what has already been done in the care sector, where a government-imposed vaccine mandate has forced “many more people” to get vaccinated.
The government announced in August that COVID-19 vaccinations will be compulsory for all staff working in care homes in England effective Nov. 11.
Javid declined to say when an NHS staff vaccine mandate would come into force, saying that “it will take some time to get it through Parliament” and people will then be given time to come forward to get the vaccine.
“I don’t want to put a timeframe on it, but it wouldn’t be months and months,” he said.
Talking on Times Radio, Javid said the government has been “very clear and open about this.”
“The reason for this is if you’re working in the NHS, that fantastic work you’re doing every day, you yourself are more susceptible to this virus because you’re just much more likely to come into contact with it,” he said. “But also, the people that you’re looking after are more vulnerable, and that’s why they’re in the hospital. They’ve got health needs, and this is about protecting them and protecting yourself.”
Speaking to the BBC’s “Today” program, Javid also said he would be wearing a mask in the House of Commons on Budget Day later this week.
“If I’m in the chamber on Budget Day, given that it will be packed, and I will be [wearing a mask],” he said.
Asked if he would urge colleagues to do the same, Javid said that would be a “personal decision.”
The health secretary told a Downing Street press conference last week that Conservative MPs should “set an example” by ending their stance of not wearing masks.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, later told MPs that “there is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces.”
“The advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don’t know. We on this side know each other,” he said.
PA contributed to this report.