LONDON — The British government is considering requiring National Health Service Workers to be immunized against COVID-19, a contentious plan that opposition leaders have slammed as unproductive.
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK government’s vaccination minister, told Sky News on Sunday that the measure was being considered with the goal of avoiding medical professionals from transmitting COVID-19 to their patients. A similar mandate for care facility staff has previously been put out to public comment by the government.
“It is definitely the correct thing to do, and any responsible government should have the discussion, think about how we go about safeguarding the most vulnerable by ensuring that people who look after them are vaccinated,” Zahawi said. “This has happened before. Obviously, surgeons are inoculated against hepatitis B, therefore it is something we are really considering.”
Concerns about a fast-spreading version initially detected in India have prompted British officials to scramble to defend their intentions to abolish all COVID-19 restrictions on June 21, enabling people to enjoy their summer vacations. Over the last week, new infections and coronavirus-related fatalities have increased, while they are still a fraction of the numbers reported at the January peak.
While the United Kingdom has the greatest coronavirus mortality toll in Europe, with over 128,000 people killed, public health experts believe the situation has improved since last winter due to the quick introduction of vaccinations. More than 74 percent of individuals in the United Kingdom have had at least one dose of vaccination.
The opposition Labour Party was quick to denounce the plan for mandatory vaccinations, claiming that working with employees to resolve their concerns would be preferable to forcing them to receive the vaccine.
“Given that areas of the NHS are experiencing a recruitment problem, I believe it is far more vital that we strive to work with workers rather than against them,” said Thangam Debbonaire, a party spokeswoman on such matters. “I don’t believe it’s a good idea to threaten employees.”