The government has launched a six week consultation to consider mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for frontline staff working in health and care settings, the Department of Health and Social Care announced today.

The consultation will consider if requirements should apply for health and wider social care staff – i.e. those who work in contact with patients and people receiving care.

This would mean that only fully vaccinated staff – unless medically exempt – could be deployed to deliver health and care services.

On top of that, the consultation will also ask for views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care staff.

In a statement, the DHSC said the proposals are being considered in a bit to protect vulnerable patients and staff.

“Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of COVID-19, and we must do what we can to protect them,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.

“It’s so clear to see the impact vaccines have against respiratory viruses which can be fatal to the vulnerable, and that’s why we’re exploring mandatory vaccines for both COVID-19 and flu.

“We will consider the responses to the consultation carefully but, whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated – for their own health as well as those around them,” he added.

Individuals working in care homes regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) already now need to be fully vaccination as a condition of deployment, following a recent government consultation.