Health department warning over vaccine mandate

Ministers have been issued with a stark warning over mandatory coronavirus vaccines for NHS workers in England, with doubts cast over the new law’s ‘rationality’ and ‘proportionality’.

Two coronavirus jabs will become compulsory for frontline NHS staff from 1 April after MPs voted on the legislation. However, the the document, drawn up by Department of Health and Social Care officials and seen by the Guardian, said the evidence base on which MPs voted ‘has changed’, creating a higher chance of objections and judicial review.

The document cites the effectiveness of only two vaccine doses against Omicron, and the lower likelihood of hospitalisations from the milder variant.

More than 70,000 NHS staff – roughly five per cent – could remain unvaccinated by the start of April. NHS trusts in England are preparing to start sending dismissal letters from 3 February to any member of staff who has not had their first dose by then.

A number of organisations, including the Royal College of Nursing, have urged DHSC to delay the legislation.

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