The government is expected to announce that frontline staff in England will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID. A deadline will be set for next spring to give unvaccinated staff time to receive both doses, Whitehall sources told the BBC.

Care home workers in England already face a November 11 deadline on full inoculation.

Only the COVID vaccine will be compulsory, though the flu jab will be strongly recommended and not required in hospital wards. There will additionally be exemptions from the COVID vaccine requirement for medical reasons, such as an allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine, or a previously experienced serious adverse effect. NHS Providers Chief Executive, Chris Hopson, stated that if mandatory vaccination for NHS staff is introduced well, it could result in a rise in vaccinations.

He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that if executed correctly, “it could be quite a useful spur in some senses to drive the take-up, but the bit that we just need to be careful of, as I said, is avoiding scapegoating people.” Hopson cited other nations that had introduced similar measures successfully.

Around 100,000 doctors, nurses and administrative staff in the health service are yet to receive one dose of COVID vaccination. There are a further 100,000 vacancies within the workforce. Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated in October that he was considering compulsory vaccination for NHS staff in England. Health leaders called on Javid to delay the plans until April to ensure that the NHS was equipped with staff to face the winter and a potential fourth wave.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to make their own decisions over the issue.