Staff in the NHS are likely to be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned. He informed Sky News that mandatory vaccines for health workers would help to protect patients, and that he was not deterred by the fact of a staff shortage in the health system. This represents the strongest indication yet that the proposal will become law.

“We are considering it,” he told Sky news. “We’re yet to make a final decision but I am leaning towards doing it.” Javid stated he is “leaning towards” making the jabs compulsory for NHS staff in England. Javid reminded viewers that the presence of unvaccinated staff translates to “an issue about patient safety”. The Health Secretary however insisted he had not yet made a final decision.

Javid rejected the Labour party’s call for the government to move to Plan B for COVID-19 at the present, and dismissed claims that forcing NHS staff to be fully vaccinated would lead to large numbers of them leaving, stating that the rule within the care sector had led to an “absolute surge” in the number of people getting vaccinated.

Javid also announced the government’s ‘five pillar’ plan for addressing COVID-19 during the challenging winter months. The pillars include a focus on vaccinations other “pharmaceutical defences”.

Dr Layla McCay, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation, told Time Radio that NHS leaders had “mixed” views on the proposed requirement of NHS staff to be fully vaccinated. An enforced vaccine “could lead to staff recruitment and retention problems and we’re going into this incredibly challenging winter,” McCay stated. According to the latest figures, around 100,000 NHS workers are not yet fully vaccinated.