Subsequent to our writing of this blog entry for publication, the UK government announced it was reconsidering its decision to enforce an NHS England vaccine mandate. Steps are already underway to formalise this decision in parliament as we speak, but this suggests the mandate is unlikely to progress any further. We note that the vaccine mandate has already been enforced for three months in social care settings and has led to staff shortages (approximately 40,000 new vacancies now exist in that setting as a result) and that due to this change in direction there is likely to be some confusion surrounding this in our profession and amongst the public. For these reasons, we have decided to continue to publish this entry to explain why a COVID vaccine mandate may be an ineffective strategy in health and social care settings and what may be more helpful instead to help staff navigate vaccine hesitancy in the context of the ongoing pandemic. [Update added on 02.02.2022]
We are a group of psychology professionals working in an acute NHS Trust in England. Core to our role is to seek to understand and empathise, and to challenge stigma, racism and discrimination wherever we encounter it. We write to raise the issue of the impact of mandated COVID vaccines upon staff working within the health and social care systems of the NHS in England.
Supporting, promoting and encouraging uptake of the vaccination programme for healthcare staff to protect themselves, patients and colleagues is important; however there should remain some choice in this decision.
PSC is a network of people interested in applying psychology to generate social and political action. You don't have to be a member of PSC to contribute to the blog