Chief Medical Adviser Chris Whitty has said doctors have a “professional duty” to get a COVID-19 vaccine and the General Medical Council has backed him saying medics could face disciplinary action if they refuse one without a valid reason. Personnel Today has the report.
Although the Government has said vaccination will not be mandatory for the general public, it has been reported that NHS executives have been considering making it a requirement for frontline health workers – following in the footsteps of many care homes that were starting to make vaccination a condition of employment.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty has told health staff that they have a professional duty to be vaccinated and, according to a report in The Times, there is a “live debate” among NHS leaders about whether it should be mandatory.
The General Medical Council has said “doctors should be immunised against common serious communicable diseases unless medically contraindicated” and that “strong measures” should be put in place to protect patients where there are good reasons why a doctor cannot have the jab.
Likewise, the British Medical Association (BMA) has backed Chris Whitty’s position and agreed that health staff should be vaccinated unless they have a valid medical reason preventing them from doing so.
“We will continue to encourage uptake of vaccinations but any proposal for a contractual or regulatory requirement for healthcare workers to have a Covid-19 vaccine would require careful scrutiny to consider the legal and ethical implications,” said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA council.
NHS England has said it was right for Whitty to suggest that NHS staff have a professional responsibility to get vaccinated. Personnel Today has contacted it for further comment.
Last week, health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that just two-thirds of social care staff and four-fifths of NHS workers have received a vaccine, despite all employees in these groups having been offered the jab.
There has been much debate around whether making vaccination a condition of employment is legal and last week the justice secretary confirmed that employers can insist on new employees having the jab.
This comes despite the well-established ethical and legal principle, reaffirmed last month by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that people should not suffer discrimination or disadvantage on account of declining medical treatment.
One clued-up Lockdown Sceptics reader told us:
All the COVID-19 vaccines are still in Phase 3 trials which are not due to finish until the end of 2022 or early 2023. These trials look for medium and long term safety data. They are not licensed but are being used under Emergency Authorisation. Here is a letter to employers that the UKMFA have published outlining the legal and scientific issues around demanding jabs with these experimental (or indeed any) products.
It seems extraordinarily illiberal to demand that someone must have some particular medical intervention in order to keep their job or be appointed to a new position. Worse, this medical intervention is still unlicensed and officially regarded as being in an experimental phase of development. Why, then, is making it mandatory even being considered by a society that claims to respect personal autonomy and human rights? I’m certainly no opponent of vaccines, which I regard (when properly and safely developed) to be a miracle of medical science. But it seems equally clear to me that under no circumstances should a person be compelled – including through threat of social or economic disadvantage – to receive an experimental medical intervention to which they do not consent. As the Council of Europe resolution indicates, this should be basic in a civilised society, even for non-experimental interventions. That it is not speaks volumes about how far as a society we have fallen since this time last year.
Stop Press: Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph says vaccine passports are no “gateway to freedom”.
Vaccine passports are yet another treacherous step on the road to a licensed, permission-based society. We won’t be able to travel, work in an office, or meet up with friends unless some official somewhere has stamped our papers. Worse, the risk is cultural as much as legalistic. It was already going to be a struggle to unwind the impact of nearly a year of lockdown, where people had the most intimate areas of their lives micromanaged by the state. The danger was always that this state of mind would become entrenched, that we would become used to waiting until we were told what to do before we did it. Vaccine passports would help to institutionalise that mindset, at tremendous cost to freedom and much else.
There is a far better solution. Once vaccines are available to everyone, it is up to you whether you get a jab or not. If you don’t then clearly you are taking a risk, but that is up to you. Other than that, you should be able to live your life as you please. We need to be working out how to reduce the massive increase in state power witnessed over 12 painful months – not finding new ways to permanently increase it.
Worth reading in full.