Health Care Workers

Matt Hancock’s Error-Strewn Argument for Mandatory Vaccination Puts His Authoritarian Impulse on Full Display

Disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was forced to resign in June when he breached the Covid guidance he had imposed on everyone else through having an affair with an aide, wrote an article in the Telegraph this week calling for immediate mandatory vaccination for NHS and social-care workers. The Government announced last week that it would delay mandatory vaccination for these workers until April 2022 to avoid exacerbating winter staffing problems, with an estimated 100,000 NHS workers still unvaccinated. Hancock, however, argues this is a mistake that puts lives at risk.

His article contains so many factual and logical errors, however, that it serves primarily as an illustration of why Hancock as Health Secretary was such a disaster for the country, with an untamed authoritarian impulse and the absence of capacity for critical or nuanced thinking. Hancock’s world is one of crisp, clean black and white, where science speaks in unison, and what is healthy becomes what is morally required and what is morally required becomes what is legally required with barely a pause for breath. If there is any liberal impulse in there he conceals it very well indeed.

Let’s take a few minutes to go through his piece and spot the many places where his argument falls down.

One year ago today, the UK was in a perilous position in our fight against COVID-19. In the absence of vaccines, there was no way to fight the pandemic without painful lockdowns and deprivations of freedom. But the development of vaccines has changed all that.

This is a bad start. It repeats the false claim that COVID-19 cannot be managed without restrictions or vaccines. This completely disregards the evidence of places which imposed few or no restrictions, such as Sweden, Florida, South Dakota, Japan and Tanzania, and fared no worse than places which imposed the harshest restrictions. It also ignores the evidence from numerous published studies showing that the stringency and timing of restrictions was not associated with significant differences in outcomes.

But the honest truth is that vaccination matters more for some than others. Obviously, vaccination matters most for the oldest, and for those who care for the most vulnerable, too. After all, getting the vaccine isn’t just to protect you, but to protect those around you who you might otherwise infect.

Sajid Javid Wants to Introduce Legislation to Force All NHS Staff to Get Vaccinated against Covid “As Soon as Possible”

There’s more today on the Government’s thoughts on forcing all NHS staff to be ‘fully vaccinated’ against Covid, with the Health Secretary believed to be keen to introduce legislation that would make vaccination a condition of employment “as soon as possible”. The Sunday Times has the story.

[Sajid Javid] believes the move would protect vulnerable patients from catching the virus in hospital, but health groups have warned that it could force trusts to fire staff or remove them from frontline duties. In England, 106,351 NHS staff have still not been vaccinated, about 7% of the total.

Javid is also preparing to roll out booster jabs to the under-50s after Christmas, although they have yet to be approved by experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Health Secretary, who has set up a “war room” and is chairing daily meetings on the Covid crisis, has drawn up new measures to ease pressure on the NHS and curb surging Covid cases, which last week surpassed 50,000 in a day for the first time in three months. …

A source close to Javid claimed he has not ruled out another national lockdown. However, it is understood that [Boris] Johnson does not want any new Covid restrictions until after COP26, the climate change summit that begins in Glasgow next weekend. “No one wants to spook the horses,” said a source. …

Javid has refused to pause a requirement for care home staff to be fully vaccinated by November 11th, despite claims that it could lead to up to 100,000 of them quitting.

Worth reading in full.

Judge Bans New York State from Sacking Health Care Workers Who Refuse to Get Jabbed on Religious Grounds

Following reports that aborted fetal tissue is being used to develop Covid vaccines, a U.S. judge has granted a preliminary injunction allowing health care workers in New York to avoid ‘no jab, no job’ rules on religious grounds. The state’s Govenor says she will “fight this decision” to “keep New Yorkers safe”. MailOnline has the story.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd made the ruling on Tuesday after 17 Catholic and Baptist health care workers sued the state last month, saying they objected to being forced to take a vaccine that used “fetal cell lines” from “procured abortions”.

The order prohibits the New York State Department of Health from interfering with religious exemptions or taking disciplinary action against workers who have sought or obtained them.

Govenor Kathy Hochul, responding to the order, said she backs the vaccine mandate, whose original deadline was September 27th, with the state’s 450,000 medical and care staff expected to have received at least one vaccine dose by that date.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe,” she wrote in a statement.

According to the injunction, which was obtained by CNN, the state health department is “barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted”.

The organisation is also prohibited from taking any action on licenses, certifications, residency or other professional status for workers who seek or have obtained religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.

Christopher Ferrara, the lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case applauded the judge’s ruling.

“With this decision the court rightly recognised that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,” he said in a statement obtained by the news outlet.

Worth reading in full.

Government Wants to Make Covid Vaccination Mandatory for All Frontline NHS Staff

Reports suggest that Sajid Javid, who recently expressed hesitancy about “taking away people’s freedom” with vaccine passports, is keen to force all frontline NHS staff to get vaccinated against Covid. A decision on whether NHS staff, like care home workers, should be told to “get jabbed or get another job” is expected to be made later this month. i news has the story.

A formal consultation on making Covid and flu vaccination a condition of employment in the NHS is due to end on October 22nd, and the Health Secretary is ready to act swiftly to implement the change, i has been told.

Following a change in the law enacted this summer, staff in care homes have until November 11th to get double jabbed for Covid, after which point they will be legally barred from work without vaccination.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has separate but similar plans to require all NHS frontline staff to be fully vaccinated – unless they have a medical exemption.

Javid is privately furious with the risk that unjabbed NHS staff pose to vulnerable patients when working in both hospital and in community settings. [Privatley? He seems to be fairly open about this.] …

He is understood to want to be “even more hardline” with health service staff than with care home staff, not least as they are directly employed by the state rather than by private providers.

While no one in Government wants to publicly pre-empt the consultation, it is understood that Boris Johnson is fully behind Javid’s belief that unjabbed health staff pose a risk to the most vulnerable

Javid also wants to offer extra reassurance to vulnerable patients that they can enter hospital and be sure that all those around them are double jabbed.

There is also a concern in government that unjabbed care home staff, who are barred from working with patients from next month, have been moving into the NHS.

The vast majority of NHS staff have been double jabbed. Latest weekly figures for England show 1,326,000 have had a first jab (92%), 1,277,000 (89%) have had a second jab. But 8% have not had any jab at all.

Worth reading in full.

Sajid Javid Tells Care Home Workers to “Get Jabbed or Get Another Job”

The Health Secretary has doubled down on the ‘no jab no job’ policy for care home workers, following reports that more than half of care homes could be forced to sack staff because of the rule, saying that those who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid should “get out and get another job”. Dismissing the views of those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, he said ‘refuseniks’ simply “cannot be bothered” to join in with the roll-out. The Telegraph has the story.

The Health Secretary said he is not prepared to “pause” the requirement for care home staff to be fully-vaccinated by November 11th, amid concerns significant numbers of staff are reluctant to receive the vaccine.

The Government announced their decision to make vaccination compulsory for care home workers in August, a controversial move that sector and union leaders warned could lead to a “mass exodus” of staff.

Mr. Javid told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “If you work in a care home you are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our country and if you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated, then get out and go and get another job.”

He added: “If you want to look after them [care home residents], if you want to cook for them, if you want to feed them, if you want to put them to bed, then you should get vaccinated. If you are not going to get vaccinated then why are you working in care?”

Christina McAnea, Unison’s General Secretary, said: “Vaccination remains the way out of the pandemic. But coercing and bullying people can never be the right approach.”

Boris Johnson has defended the move, saying it was “only reasonable” to expect workers in a position of care to be vaccinated.

The Prime Minister said: “I think that it’s only reasonable to expect people who are entrusted with the care of elderly and vulnerable people to be inoculated against a disease which is particularly harmful to elderly and vulnerable people.”

Worth reading in full.

More Than Half of Care Homes Could Be Forced to Sack Staff Over Mandatory Covid Vaccination

Plans to make vaccination against Covid mandatory for care home workers could force six in 10 care facilities to fire some of their staff who refuse to get ‘jabbed’, according to new estimates. The Telegraph has the story.

The Department for Health and Social Care has ordered all care home staff to receive their first dose of a Covid vaccine by September 16th so they are fully vaccinated by the time regulations come into force on November 11th. 

This means staff – apart from those who are exempt for medical reasons – will be banned from working in care homes if they are not double-jabbed by the deadline. 

The Government has previously estimated that its mandatory vaccination policy will result in around 40,000 care home staff – 7% – either quitting or being sacked, costing the embattled sector £100 million to replace.

However, new data seen by the Telegraph suggest that 60% of care home managers believe they will be forced to sack staff based on current vaccination rates, with some seeing up to 20 carers already quitting. 

One manager told the Telegraph that the pressure to force staff into receiving a vaccine is tantamount to “moral blackmail” which “infringes on their human rights”. 

The Institute of Health and Social Care Management (IHSCM) surveyed 530 care home managers across the U.K. and found 318 said they would be forced to sack staff by November 11th based on current vaccination rates. 

Around 35% of managers expect they will lose between 1-5% of staff, 19% fear they will lose between 6-10% of carers, and 4.11% believe they will lose between 11-15% of staff.

However, as many as 3.9% of managers fear they could lose up to a fifth of their workforce, with between 16 and 20% of carers missing the November deadline.

Worth reading in full.

Almost a Quarter of U.S. Hospitals Are Forcing Staff to Get Vaccinated Against Covid

As much as some state leaders are attempting to stop the move to mandatory Covid vaccination for hospital workers (and for employees in other sectors), close to 25% of U.S. hospitals are requiring their staff to get ‘jabbed’ as a condition of employment. More than 96% of doctors have already been vaccinated, according to the American Medical Association, and 45% of those who have not plan to be. MailOnline has the story.

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), around 1,500 hospitals have set vaccine mandates, reported CNN. 

The vaccine requirements are controversial and have received backlash from employees, unions and even some governments. 

Federally, it is legal for employers to demand their staff to get vaccinated, though individual states can – and have – passed laws banning vaccine mandates in the workplace. 

The first major hospital system to institute this type of mandate was Houston Methodist Hospital system in Texas.

The hospital’s decision was met with backlash from employees, and 117 filed a joint lawsuit against the hospital.

Their effort was in vain with the lawsuit thrown out and more than 100 employees were either fired or resigned.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City, also set a similar mandate, giving all of its employees until September 1st to get the shots or be terminated. …

These types of mandates are not legal everywhere, however.

In seven states, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah, employers are not allowed to force their employees to get the vaccine to keep their jobs.

Advocates of mandatory vaccination for hospital workers employ the usual trick of comparing Covid to other viruses such as polio and smallpox.

“I cannot imagine passing any worse law than [banning vaccine mandates],” John Goodnow, CEO of Benefis Health in Great Falls, Montana, told CNN.

“Imagine if that would have been passed back when we were fighting polio, or smallpox before that.”

Benefis attempted to put a vaccine mandate in place in April, but its attempt was blocked by state legislators.

Worth reading in full.

Thousands March Against Vaccine Passports in France

Thousands have taken to the streets in France to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s extreme plans to force all health workers to get vaccinated against Covid and to prevent the unvaccinated from visiting restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals, and from using trains and planes. Unmoved by these demonstrations, French Prime Minister Jean Castex says people should be “convinced” to take the vaccine “at all costs”. Reuters has the story.

Macron this week announced sweeping measures to fight a rapid surge in coronavirus infections, which protesters say infringe the freedom of choice of those who do not want the vaccination.

The measures had already prompted demonstrations earlier this week, forcing police to use tear gas to disperse protesters.

“Everyone is sovereign in his own body. In no way does a president of the Republic have the right to decide on my individual health,” said one protester in Paris who identified herself as Chrystelle.

Marches, which also took place in France’s largest cities such as Marseille, Lyon and Lille as well as many smaller centres, also included “yellow vest” protesters seeking to revive the anti-Government movement curbed by coronavirus lockdowns.

Visiting a centre in Anglet in southwestern France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said vaccination, which is not mandatory for the general public for now, is the only way to fight the virus.

“I hear the reluctance that arises but I think that we must at all costs convince all our fellow citizens to be vaccinated, it is the best way to cope to this health crisis,” Castex said.

Despite the strength of the protests, an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll released on Friday found more than 60% of French people agree with mandatory vaccination for health workers, as well as a requirement for a health pass in some public places.

Worth reading in full.

Emmanuel Macron Mandates Covid Vaccination for All French Health Workers and Introduces Vaccine Passports

Emmanuel Macron has announced that all French health workers face mandatory Covid vaccination and that vaccine passports will be required in restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals, and on trains and planes, effectively cutting off unvaccinated French people from their daily lives. Cancelling all large events which were set to take place in the coming month, the President also warned that ALL French citizens could face mandatory vaccination later this year.

To get a vaccine passport, you have to be fully vaccinated, have a fresh negative test or have recently recovered from the virus. In his address, Macron said that France will start charging for some Covid tests, which up to now have been free, giving many citizens little choice but to get vaccinated. Sky News has more.

In a televised address, France’s President said all health care workers, nursing home workers and anyone who cares for the elderly or unwell at home must have coronavirus vaccines by September 15th.

Those who fail to do so could face sanctions or fines.

The President also announced anyone who wants to go to a restaurant, shopping centre or several other public places will need a Covid pass, which can only be given to people who have been fully vaccinated, have a fresh negative test or have recently recovered from the virus.

The additional restrictions come as the country continues to battle a resurgence of cases driven mainly by the Delta variant.

Some 40% of France’s population is fully vaccinated but there are pockets of vaccine scepticism.

“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory,” Mr Macron said. …

He said the French Government would declare a medical state of emergency again starting on Tuesday, which allows him more scope to impose virus restrictions. …

In France, vaccines are widely available for anyone 12 and over, but take-up slowed in recent weeks because of vaccine hesitancy, a sense that the virus is no longer a threat, and because some people decided to put off their jabs until after summer holidays.

We are not that far behind this state of affairs in England, where care home workers face mandatory vaccination and large indoor venues have been urged to require vaccine passports.

The Sky News report is worth reading in full.

300 Italian Health Workers Launch Legal Action against Government over Mandatory Vaccination

300 healthcare workers across Italy have launched a “democratic battle” against mandatory vaccination in the form of a legal challenge against their Government. Barron’s has the story.

The case, brought by professionals throughout northern Italy, will be heard on July 14th.

“This isn’t a battle by ‘anti-vaxxers’ but a democratic battle,” Constitutional Lawyer Daniele Granara, who helped build up the case, was cited as saying in the Giornale di Brescia newspaper.

“We force people to take a risk under threat of no longer being allowed to exercise their profession,” he added.

Granara is also defending dozens of caregivers who have been suspended from work for refusing to be vaccinated.

Italy passed a law in April obliging anyone working in public or private social health positions, including in pharmacies and doctors’ offices, to get vaccinated against Covid or be suspended without pay, unless their employer can reassign them to a less sensitive position.

After the elderly and vulnerable, caregivers including teachers were the first to be vaccinated in Italy.

While the British GMB Union has warned that more than a third of its members in social care would consider quitting if vaccines are mandated, the Government has not yet been faced by legal action on the matter.

Worth reading in full.