‘Get jabbed or get out of the NHS’: Message from hundreds of Mail on Sunday readers to health workers as deadline on the Covid vaccine mandate looms
- All face-fronting NHS workers must have had their first Covid jab by Thursday
- Policy has caused uproar, with thousands protesting the measure last weekend
- But hundreds of Mail on Sunday readers wrote in to support the divisive policy
The clock is ticking for unvaccinated frontline NHS staff as the deadline on the Covid jab mandate looms.
By Thursday – unless there’s a last-minute reprieve – doctors, nurses and all NHS staff who come face to face with patients must have had their first dose or risk being out of a job. A second-dose deadline is fixed for April 1.
The Government policy has caused uproar, with thousands of staff taking part in protests last weekend to voice their outrage.
Senior health figures are divided. Some say it’s vital to protect vulnerable patients from catching Covid as they’re being treated; others argue the measure is already outdated – with most people fully vaccinated and the threat of the virus receding, they say the mandate is divisive and unnecessary.
But last week, The Mail on Sunday’s GP columnist Dr Ellie Cannon asked readers what they thought about it – and we’ve been inundated with responses overwhelmingly in support of ‘no jab, no job’.
‘Is it not the duty of NHS staff to honour their Hippocratic Oath of ‘first do no harm’ and get vaccinated?’ asked Eileen Watson, from Epsom.
David Brown, 68, a former sales manager from Surrey, wrote about his 92-year-old father George, who died after catching Covid while in hospital in January last year (pictured together)
Protestor seen chanting while holding a placard that says ‘no vaccine mandates’ during the demonstration in London earlier this month
Valerie Goodchild from Bangor wrote: ‘My husband has terminal stomach cancer and I do not want medical staff to give him Covid.’
And Ben Davis from Lincoln said: ‘My daughter takes immune-suppressing drugs. It should be the right of UK citizens to safely access NHS services.’
Some readers were especially concerned after seeing family members catch Covid in hospital.
This newspaper was the first to reveal that more than 4,000 patients died of Covid infections they picked up in hospital during the first wave in 2020.
David Brown, 68, a former sales manager from Surrey, wrote about his 92-year-old father George, who died after catching Covid while in hospital in January last year.
‘He was taken in for a fractured hip after suffering a fall, but was in good spirits,’ David said.
‘The doctors operated the next morning and he was recovering well. I don’t know how he became infected, but it could have been by an unvaccinated member of staff, given that we’d done everything we could to protect him.’
Only a handful of Mail on Sunday readers disagree with the Covid jab mandate for NHS workers – here’s what they had to say
I resigned as an NHS phlebotomist – drawing blood from patients – this month. How dare anyone else make a decision about what we NHS staff put in our bodies? Many of us have had Covid anyway. My symptoms were so mild that I went to work with it before tests were widely available. Don’t push vaccines on people who don’t need them – Verity Cheshire
People have had three jabs in 12 months but are still not protected, so why put people’s jobs in jeopardy because they won’t have a vaccine that doesn’t work as well as others do – Alison Watson
I’M disturbed by the mandate to force NHS staff to have the jab. My husband developed inflammation of the spinal cord after having a ‘safe’ vaccination. He is now paralysed from the waist down. As a social care worker, I face losing my job as I don’t want the jab. Incidentally, I’ve had all other vaccinations throughout my life, as has my husband and my children – Karen Blavins
If the vaccine is safe and everyone should have one, then why did my mother-in-law end up in hospital with Guillain-Barre syndrome after her jab?I, along with four others I know, were diagnosed with polymyalgia soon after vaccination. People should have a choice whether or not to take the vaccine, and be made aware of potential problems – Liz Dorey
COVID is not the only horrible way to die. My father died from a rare side effect of the flu jab – an extreme form of the immune condition I have. It took five months for the medical profession to tell me it could not guarantee I wouldn’t suffer the same fate as my father – Linda McWilliam
I don’t understand why staff can’t be tested regularly if they won’t take the vaccine. I would rather be cared for by someone I know has tested negative than by someone who is vaccinated and can still catch the virus and pass it on. And I’m no anti-vaxxer – I’m 66 years old and vaccinated – Christine Harrison
Five days after testing positive, George died in his sleep.
David said: ‘He ordered sausages and mash for his dinner, then nodded off and never woke up.
‘While patients are in the care of unjabbed doctors, I don’t think we can guarantee they’ll be treated safely.’
Meanwhile, healthcare leaders have warned of an ‘exodus’ of staff who simply refuse to have a jab at a time of immense pressure on the health service, meaning Ministers face some difficult decisions.
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday’s Medical Minefield podcast, Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners Council, said: ‘We don’t believe the mandate is the best approach to improving the level of vaccination.
‘Decisions about medical interventions are best made through informed choice, and if people have doubts about it the best thing to do is to have conversations with them, not to force them into doing it.’
He added: ‘We can’t afford to reduce the size of the workforce in the healthcare sector. If you shut out people who are not willing to have a vaccination, that’s going to impact the care we’re able to offer to patients.
‘If you were to balance the risks of being looked after by a clinician who hasn’t been vaccinated against the risks of having no clinician at all, it seems to me to be a very easy and clear decision.’
And not all readers supported the NHS workers’ vaccine drive.
‘The inconvenient truth is that vaccines for Covid are not perfect,’ wrote Bernard Smith.
‘The virus can be passed on by the vaccinated, and many vaccinated people test positive for Covid and become ill.’
While Julie Poole wrote: ‘Covid is rife in my father-in-law’s care home, despite all the staff and residents there being fully jabbed. It’s so bad they’ve just had to put a ban on all visitors again.’
As the vaccine deadline looms, there are predictions that the NHS will be hit with swathes of legal claims brought by disgruntled employees forced to sacrifice their jobs.
‘This will come back to haunt the decision-makers when human rights lawyers take them to the cleaners for unfair dismissal,’ wrote MoS reader Julie Ball.
Only those members of staff who have ‘direct face-to-face contact with people receiving care’ will be subject to the mandate, and NHS bosses are advised to explore ‘reasonable possibilities for redeployment’ for those refusing to be vaccinated.
Some readers’ letters suggested that even those who did not have face-to-face contact with patients were being asked to abide by the mandate – such as those in research or administration. So, The Mail on Sunday sought clarification.
We asked the 219 NHS trusts in England if only patient-facing staff would be subject to the mandate, and whether they planned to redeploy unvaccinated staff.
As we went to press, more than 50 trusts confirmed both of these conditions. One, Royal United Hospitals Bath, said it may move staff to local ‘partner organisations’, away from the main hospital site.
Prof Marshall says: ‘It’s much less of a viable solution in general practice, with a fewer staff and less space elsewhere in the system. There is the provision of remote care over the telephone over video calls, but that is not a long-term solution.’
Additional reporting Justin Stoneman.
What happened to ‘Do no harm’? Just some of the letters sent by Mail on Sunday readers backing the no jab, no job policy for NHS staff
How can supposedly intelligent medical professionals consider NOT having vaccinations? A friend caught Covid in hospital over Christmas. It was very worrying, as she is in her 80s.
She’d had all her vaccines and had kept away from other people for the past two years. Despite this, she caught the virus under the watch of people supposed to be caring for her.
I am confused as to why seemingly intelligent NHS staff object to Covid vaccinations.
I am 70 and have known people forced to wear leg callipers after contracting polio. These anti-jab people probably haven’t had to deal with that disease. Why? Because of the polio vaccination. The same applies to flu.
When I was young, if you caught it you were extremely ill for two weeks. Now, if you’ve had a vaccine, you’re OK.
I agree: no jab, no job. I worked as a nurse for 40 years and had to have my immunisations up to date at all times. You have to have a yellow fever jab to visit certain parts of the world, and a whole list of them for some countries. What’s the difference?
When I needed treatment at my local hospital during the pandemic, I had to be tested for Covid.
I had absolutely no issue with this. I would hate to infect our treasured NHS staff and, equally, I would not expect to catch it from them.
How can doctors expect the public to have faith in them if they have such little regard for us?
As a nurse with more than 40 years’ experience, I am disgusted by healthcare staff refusing vaccination. We signed up to care for sick patients. If you don’t want to be vaccinated, you should consider a different career.
I am 80 years old and have undergone two procedures in hospital in the past six months. I would have been extremely unhappy if any of the NHS staff treating me had refused Covid vaccinations. In fact, had I known this, I might well have refused to go ahead with the surgery
I have leukaemia and have to go to hospital for regular blood tests. It now feels as if I am playing Russian roulette every time I go, wondering if the nurse taking my blood has been vaccinated. I would have thought it was their moral duty.
Every patient should have the right to request a fully vaccinated NHS worker. I am immunosuppressed and have had four Covid vaccinations to try to keep myself safe. So why do doctors who refuse the jab think their human rights are more important than mine?
Reports of unvaccinated patients in hospital with Covid begging for the vaccine speak for themselves. It is time these people realise how they are viewed by many of the vaccinated: ignorant, selfish, pathetic and attention-seeking.
Perhaps they feel they are heroes to a cause, perhaps it makes them feel important in their otherwise unremarkable lives. They are free to choose not to be vaccinated, and I and many others are free to judge them for that stance.
I recently went into hospital for a small procedure, and asked the nurse tending to me if she was vaccinated against Covid. She replied: ‘That is confidential information which I cannot share.’ I took that to mean no.
From that moment on, I felt extremely vulnerable. All NHS staff should be vaccinated. Surely they entered the profession to care for others and not cause harm?
Incidentally, I am a former nurse, and I remember how, in the early 1970s, we were all mandated to have the smallpox vaccine. We endured terrible side effects, but turned up for work and got on with the job nonetheless.
As a retired occupational therapist, I remember thinking it was quite extraordinary when colleagues of mine refused to have the influenza vaccine. They were not only denying themselves protection from potentially serious illness, but patients too.
I recently had open-heart surgery and often have to attend check-ups at hospital clinics. I am appalled to think I could be at risk because of unvaccinated staff.
I recently retired from the NHS after 24 years working in hospital theatres. During Covid’s first wave, along with 90 of my colleagues, I was redeployed to work in intensive care and saw the devastation caused at first hand.
We all prayed for a vaccine to be made as quickly as possible. And now we have several that work, it beggars belief that former colleagues are using the excuse that it is ‘unsafe’ not to be jabbed.
If they somehow manage to keep their jobs, I hope that they spare a thought for patients who are now in the care of someone who could easily pass the virus on to them.
The thought of being treated by an unvaccinated health worker fills me with anger.
I am a carer for my husband who has Parkinson’s, a blood condition and other illnesses, so have been self-isolating since March 2020.
I’ve placed a notice on my front door: ‘If you’re not vaccinated, you’re not allowed in this house.’
I should have the freedom to choose a vaccinated health worker.
I’m a former nurse, and I could not have lived with the knowledge that I was putting my patients at risk – and maybe even killing them – by refusing the jab.
It is one thing exercising personal choice, but don’t patients also have a right to feel and be safe?
It’s illegal to smoke in restaurants, to protect other people from cancer-causing secondhand smoke.
Well, I don’t want to run the risk of catching secondhand Covid.
And at least with smoke you notice it and can walk away – Covid is invisible.
These people are going against the Hippocratic Oath and are a disgrace to their profession.
I appreciate that lay people may get persuaded by anti-vax conspiracy theories, but I cannot understand why medical professionals are taken in by it.
They talk about their freedom to stay unvaccinated, but they must understand that freedom of choice has consequences.
Once you accept a working role in an environment where you are exposed to others who are vulnerable to infections, you have a duty to protect yourself – and therefore the patients – from infections. If vaccines help reduce the risk of infections in patients, staff must be vaccinated.
As long as the vaccine is safe, I see no reason for anyone to refuse it.
All NHS staff who come into contact with patients should be vaccinated against Covid.
My daughter-in-law and two grandchildren work in the care system, looking after adults with learning disabilities. All of them had to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face losing their jobs. They love their jobs, so taking the vaccine was never a problem.
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