NHS workers could be forced to do Covid shots as part of plans being discussed by ministers.
The Mail may reveal that a review of vaccine passports will determine whether healthcare workers who refuse an injection may be legally required to have one.
The review should also consider whether the duress should apply to nursing home staff, most of whom are not employed by the state.
Ministers believe the move could reduce the number of deaths from the virus and limit delays in easing the lockdown.
However, there are major legal and moral issues as well as uncertainty as to what might happen to those who still refuse to be vaccinated.
Up to 200,000 NHS and care workers have so far turned down the offer at once, as they worked in close proximity to vulnerable people.
“It is extraordinary that so many people in the health care sector appear to have refused the vaccine,” a Cabinet source told the Mail.
“ It seems incredible that anyone working in this environment can give credence to the waste produced by anti-vaxxers. But we have to get these people vaccinated.
A spokesperson for NHS England said last night that many trusts were reporting that nine in ten employees had had the blow.
But the ministers want the rate to be as close as possible to 100% because of the serious risks posed by nosocomial infections.
Official figures from last week revealed that 28 percent of nursing home staff had still not been vaccinated.
Downing Street confirmed last night that the matter is being considered as part of a review led by Michael Gove on ‘certification of Covid status’, also known as vaccine passports.
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Yesterday Mr Hancock appeared to indicate that some form of vaccine certificate would be introduced, telling MPs it was “clear that we will need to provide people with the ability to certify whether they have received the vaccine.”
He said ministers “ should definitely take into consideration those who have a certified clinical reason why they cannot receive the vaccine – which applies to a relatively small number of people – but it is an important consideration. which will be taken into account as part of this work ”.
The NHS and caregivers have been given top priority for the jab, with offers rolling out to frontline workers starting in December.
But a persistent minority has so far refused all offers and encouragement.
The review will need to consider the penalties that health workers should face if they refuse to have compulsory employment.
Layoffs could be a recipe for industrial unrest, but staff could be taken away from frontline tasks or forced to use additional PPE.
Analysis by the Health Service Journal found that on average more than 450 cases of Covid per day were likely contracted in hospitals in January.
Hospital infections have also been a major cause of staff illness – increasing pressure on the overworked NHS. It is believed that the situation in nursing homes is at least as serious.
Care UK, which operates 120 homes, said last week it would only hire vaccinated staff.
A spokesperson said: ‘Anyone applying for a position that requires them to visit a house will need to have been vaccinated before they start working. ”
Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said last month that NHS staff have a ‘professional responsibility’ to receive a stroke.
NHS England said last night the vast majority of staff had been vaccinated – and urged others to come forward.
A spokesperson added: ‘While it is up to government and parliament to decide which groups of people are required to get vaccinated, the NHS national medical director and head nurse agree with Chris Whitty, with the Chairman of the BMA and other professional leaders besides the NHS. staff have a duty to be vaccinated unless they have a valid clinical reason for not doing so ”.
Mr Gove’s review is expected to be released ahead of the final stage of the lockdown exit roadmap on June 21.
It will examine whether there should be a system allowing people to access services based on their vaccination status or Covid test.
A government spokesperson acknowledged that any form of system would raise important “ethical, equality, confidentiality, legal and operational” questions.