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NHS staff and care workers could be forced to have Covid jab under new plans

Ministers are discussing plans to force NHS workers to have coronavirus vaccines, according to reports.

MPs are said to be looking at whether healthcare staff who decline a jab could be compelled by law, according to the Daily Mail.

But the debate has already thrown up both legal and moral issues, with it also unclear what would happen to continued refusers.

The review by officials is also thought to be considering enforcing a rule on care home workers, the newspaper said.

More than 20million people in Britain have had the first dose of a vaccine, the Government announced on Sunday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “absolutely delighted” and urged people to keep coming forward for jabs.

But, according to the Daily Mail, 200,000 NHS and care employees have refused the offer of a vaccine so far.

A source told the newspaper: “It is extraordinary that so many people in the health sector appear to have turned down the vaccine.”

Care UK, one of Britain’s largest care home operators, announced recently that it would be operating a no jab, no job policy for new starters.

The company said: “Everyone applying for a role which requires them to go into a home will be expected to have been vaccinated before they start work.”

MP Michael Gove is leading a review into the potential for vaccine passports, which is expected to be published before the final stage of lockdown is lifted on June 21.

Ministers are said to believe that forcing NHS workers and care home staff to have a vaccine could help restrictions to be lifted and cut the death toll.

The news comes after a top expert behind the Oxford vaccine has urged Brits not to “obsess” about every new variant of Covid.

Professor Andrew Pollard said the South African and Brazilian variants can still be fought with new jabs in the future, even if the current vaccine proves less effective.

The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group argued more variants will emerge in the future – but in every case, scientists will be working to ensure vaccines can work against them.

It comes after six cases of the P.1 variant from Manaus, Brazil, were found in Britain.

It has also been revealed that jabs given to Brits should be more effective in younger adults than the elderly and could almost completely stop transmission, a top scientist said.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said she expects the vaccines to give stronger protection to younger age groups.

She said the effect, however, would not be as obvious in the data because younger people are less likely to die or fall ill with coronavirus compared with the oldest age groups.

The expert said there were positive signs the jab rollout would cut infection rates across the nation, and she was hopeful that two doses could prevent people passing it on almost completely.

A Public Health England study which shows that use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine dramatically reduces hospital admissions in over 80-year-olds could also see encouraging results for other age groups.

Dr Ramsay said of the study: “We were able to show that even if people did get a case of Covid after having been vaccinated their risk of hospitalisation and of death are markedly reduced.”

And, it was claimed yesterday that vaccinated Brits will be able to jump the Covid queue when landing in Greece for their holidays.

Greek officials reportedly intend to let vaccinated tourists use a special ‘green lane’, which bypasses the longer queue for those who have received a negative Covid test.

Greece hopes to launch the new service by mid-May, making summer holidays even easier for any Brits planning a Mediterranean getaway.

Tourists will have to use an app to prove they have received the jab under the scheme.

A source told The Sun that talks between the UK and Greece are in the ‘advance stages’.

They added: “Our objective is to get the system in place by mid-May.”

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