Making Covid vaccines compulsory ISN'T best method of improving uptake
9th November 2021

Making Covid vaccines compulsory for frontline NHS staff and care home workers may NOT be best method of boosting uptake, data shows

  • Office for National Statistics’ survey included 200 un-jabbed people in England
  • They were most likely to get jabbed if they felt it would protect themselves
  • But being told by an employer to get jabbed was least likely to motivate them 

Making Covid vaccines compulsory is not the best way to boost uptake, official data suggested today.

An Office for National Statistics survey asked almost 200 unvaccinated people what could motivate them to get jabbed.

Being reminded of how it could protect them and their loved ones from the virus was most likely to motivate them to get the vaccine, with a fifth saying that would be the biggest factor that could sway them.

Some 16 per cent said the main reason they would get jabbed would be to ease restrictions and get life back to normal, and to go on holiday.

But being told to get the vaccine by employers would only be a key motivator for 13 per cent of unvaccinated people. 

This makes it just as persuasive as being offered vouchers or shopping discounts to get inoculated. 

The above graph shows what unvaccinated people said would motivate them to get the Covid jab in September. Being told by an employer to get jabbed to keep their job was least likely to encourage them to get the jab

The survey also included unvaccinated people who had since got the vaccine. The most common reason for getting the jab was to allow restrictions to be eased and for life to return to normal

Frontline NHS staff in England must get two doses of the Covid vaccine by next spring or they will lose their jobs, the Government is expected to announce today.

Whitehall sources claim the April deadline — first mooted last week — will give unvaccinated employees enough time to get their jabs without risking a mass exodus heading into winter.

Only the Covid vaccine will be compulsory with the flu jab strongly recommended but not required for staff on hospital wards, the BBC reports.

The move will bring the NHS in line with care homes, where employees have until Thursday to get their second Covid jab or they will be sacked.

Ex-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt backed the policy last night after an investigation found 11,000 patients have died in NHS hospitals after catching the virus on a ward while getting treated for another condition.

But unions have blasted the ‘heavy-handed’ plans, warning they are neither ‘necessary nor proportionate’ given that more than 90 per cent of health workers have already been double-jabbed.

Defending the Government’s stance this morning, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said vulnerable people being treated in hospitals and care homes deserved to be ‘properly protected’.

Experts today called for a renewed emphasis on campaigns promoting the benefits of getting vaccinated to boost uptake.

They said making jabs compulsory ‘may be less successful’ at encouraging people to get jabbed and make those who are vaccine-hesitant even more resistant.

Ministers are set to confirm compulsory vaccines for frontline NHS workers today, mirroring the same controversial move taken for care home workers.

But unions have warned it could backfire and exacerbate staffind crises in both sectors. 

Professor Helen Bedford, a children’s health expert at University College London who was not involved in the research, told MailOnline the ONS report was ‘important’.

She said: ‘It clearly shows messaging about Covid vaccination needs to emphasise the benefits of being vaccinated for ourselves and others.

‘Requiring people to be vaccinated may be less successful and may have important downsides, such as making people with doubts even more resistant.’ 

The ONS survey was carried out in September, two months before Covid jabs were to become compulsory for care home workers.

It included 4,000 volunteers who revealed they didn’t want to get the vaccine when quizzed earlier in the year.

But when the latest survey was carried out, four in ten of previously hesitant adults revealed they had since decided to get the Covid vaccine.  

Care home staff will need to have two doses of the Covid vaccine from Thursday in order to keep their jobs.

But with up to 60,000 employees yet to be fully inoculated — roughly a tenth of the workforce — health want the deadline to be delayed or even ditched.

They warn it will lead hundreds of homes to close or limit the number of beds they have because of low staffing levels.

Frontline NHS workers are also expected to be told they must get two doses of the Covid vaccine to keep working in the sector.

But unions and health leaders today blasted the policy as ‘heavy-handed’, warning it is neither ‘necessary nor proportionate’. Some added it would be a ‘real problem’ if it led to a mass exodus of employees.

Around 110,000 doctors, nurses and administrative staff in the NHS are yet to get their jabs — equivalent to eight per cent of the workforce.

Some 100,000 NHS workers are yet to get at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, figures show. The above graph shows the percentage that have got their first dose (blue line) and the percentage that have got both doses (orange line)

The above map shows the 20 hospital trusts with the lowest proportion of staff fully jabbed in England. The data is up to September 30, the latest available

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last month he was ‘leaning towards’ making Covid vaccines compulsory for people working in the NHS.

But health leaders called on him to delay the plans until April to ensure that the health service could get through what is expected to be a very difficult winter.

A source involved in the discussion said last week Mr Javid had been ‘genuinely split’ over the decision.

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