Government must try harder on vaccines before leaping to the law, says UNISON

Everyone should be offered jab but not coerced

Compulsory Covid vaccinations for care staff are the wrong way to increase injection take-up and would heap additional pressure on an already-challenged sector, says UNISON today (Tuesday).

The union was responding to reports that the government is considering changing the law to make Covid jabs mandatory for all care staff.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Everyone wants the pandemic over and vaccinations are the route back to normality. But turning the clock back to Victorian times by forcing care workers to be jabbed isn’t the way.

“All those who can have the vaccine should. That’s clear. But the key to getting the numbers up is for employers, unions and the government to work together.

“Instead of leaping to the law, ministers could start by putting the funds behind a targeted advertising campaign aimed at care staff.

“The slow take-up rate in care across England is a disastrous consequence of the fragmented way the sector is organised. It’s no accident that far higher numbers of NHS workers have been jabbed.

“Employers can do their bit too. They could make it easier for staff to have injections and allow appointments during working hours so low-paid staff don’t lose out.

“Nervous staff need extra time. They must be encouraged to talk to colleagues who’ve had their jab and be persuaded there’s nothing to fear. Clear information to counter the anti-vax nonsense on social media is essential too.

“Mandatory vaccines smack of a bygone age or of authoritarian regimes. The care sector is already in crisis. It needs to hold on to staff, not give people another reason to take better paid jobs elsewhere.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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