The vaccination rate for those who work in care homes and healthcare recruitment is below target, leading to the question, could mandatory vaccines be the way forward? Or will it lead to an exodus of healthcare workers?
Various scientific advisory groups have suggested that the uptake of vaccines needs to be 80% or higher to ensure care home residents and healthcare workers are adequately protected, and a minimum level of care can be provided during outbreaks of Covid, but what are the ethical problems behind this?
When you look at the face value of vaccinating healthcare workers, you may think that it sounds relatively simple. Healthcare systems receive vaccines, distribute them to healthcare workers and then they will get their vaccine. This system seems plausible, however, there appears to be a lot of hesitancy, particularly amongst the younger generation.
As global rates of infection are falling, it is now more important than ever to protect people against the virus and continue encouraging as many people to get vaccinated. The government has already announced mandatory vaccines for care home workers, and are now contemplating making them mandatory for all NHS employees in an attempt to ensure that as many people are protected as possible. In order to address this issue, it’s important to look at why hesitancy is a concern.
Vaccine hesitancy can revolve around doubts regarding effectiveness, the low risk of infection against younger individuals and safety concerns about the long-term effects of the vaccine. With this in mind, would a policy regarding mandatory Covid-vaccination be justifiable and what are the ethical concerns surrounding it?
There are concerns that a mandatory vaccine would go against basic human rights. Although some vaccines are in fact mandatory right now, it would seem that the Covid vaccine presents a completely different scenario. The main cause for concern surrounding the Covid vaccine is that the vaccine has been “rushed” in an attempt to break the chain of transmission that is currently circulating the world. Some people are concerned that the vaccine isn’t safe, and that it won’t be proven to be safe until a number of years have passed, however, others believe that the best scientists in the world have been working on the virus vaccine, and that this easily makes up for the short time frame they’ve had to work with.
Whilst a proportion of people argue that it would be unfair to force a vaccine like this upon the public, regardless of the reasons someone has for not getting it, others believe making the vaccine mandatory for those working with the most vulnerable people in our society is the right thing to do. That brings the question, how would a mandatory vaccine affect healthcare recruitment in the UK?
Should the vaccine become mandatory, it would seem that there would be a lower number of healthcare workers available to recruit as they may seek employment in different sectors due to their hesitancy to get vaccinated. Some may be forced to leave their jobs if they were not willing to get the jab, referencing a no jab- no job policy. Others may be worried about the repercussions and the stigma of working without a vaccine, amongst their peers, even if they were legally exempt. This could open up more jobs in the healthcare industry, providing more career options for those who want to enter the industry of healthcare, due to the varied amount of open positions, however, it could also lead to a shortage of healthcare workers.
If healthcare workers were forced to leave because they didn’t have a vaccine then this would put a great deal of strain on the healthcare system. This would become more noticeable in the winter months, where cold and flu season increases the number of people being admitted to hospital due to respiratory issues. In terms of healthcare recruitment, this would mean that there would be a surge in the number of jobs available during this time, especially in temporary work and part-time positions.
To conclude, mandatory vaccines will affect healthcare recruitment in one way or another. People will leave their positions and more positions will open up. Part-time and temporary positions are likely to surge during the winter, and people who are entering the industry will have more choice as to the position they want to apply for. That being said, there could be a reduction in the number of people who are willing to train to work in healthcare; vaccine hesitancy being the main cause. If someone is naturally hesitant about the vaccine, they may decide to change their career path if they know that it is going to be mandatory for them to have a vaccine if they choose to work in healthcare which could lead to a staff shortage that likely won’t be felt for a few years.
To find out how crooton can help recruit healthcare workers or educate potential employees on the benefits of being vaccinated using our unique ‘Employer Fencing’ software, contact one of our friendly recruitment consultants today.