Britain is highly likely to require front-line health- and social-care workers in England to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday.
Javid said the government had launched a consultation on protecting vulnerable patients by making COVID-19 and flu vaccinations a condition of deployment for front-line health and wider social-care staff in England.
“I believe that it is highly likely that front-line NHS staff and those working in wider social-care settings will also have to be vaccinated to protect those that are around them,” Javid told Parliament.
Javid spoke as the government unveiled its plan Tuesday for coping with COVID-19 during the fall and winter months.
“Data continues to show that the link between cases, hospitalizations and deaths has weakened significantly since the start of the pandemic,” the government said in its plan.
The government’s plan for fall and winter — which aims to avoid harsh lockdowns — includes continuing with vaccination efforts, as well as its test, trace and isolate program.
Javid also told Parliament that the government had a Plan B to deal with the virus if the health service came under unsustainable pressure. According to a document outlining the fall and winter plan, Plan B would include:
- Communicating to the public “clearly and urgently” that risk has increased and more caution is needed.
- Introducing “mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification” in some settings.
- Requiring face masks in some settings.
Britain has officially recorded 134,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than seven million cases. So far, 44 million people have had two vaccine doses, 81 per cent of those aged over 16. On Monday, the government said those aged 12 to 15 would also be offered shots.
The COVID19 Dashboard has been updated <a href=”https://t.co/lJFIgzSk0n”>https://t.co/lJFIgzSk0n</a><br><br>On Monday 13 September, 30,825 new cases and 61 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK<br><br>48,439,272 people have now received the 1st dose of a vaccine<br><br>44,048,093 have received a 2nd dose <a href=”https://t.co/MnRky83TWl”>pic.twitter.com/MnRky83TWl</a>
The U.K. also said Tuesday it will offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 and other vulnerable people after an an expert panel said the boosters were needed to protect against waning immunity this winter.
Javid told lawmakers that the government had accepted the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) and would start offering booster shots next week.
The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40 per cent of their populations. The agency said that COVID-19 would continue to threaten people everywhere until all countries vaccinate enough people to head off potentially dangerous new variants.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 9:20 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 225.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
In Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin is self-isolating after members of his entourage fell ill with COVID-19 and will therefore not travel to Tajikistan this week for planned regional security meetings, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The 68-year-old has taken an array of health precautions throughout the pandemic and has had two doses of the Sputnik V
In the Asia-Pacific region, new local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in China’s southeastern province of Fujian, health authorities said, prompting officials to quickly roll out measures including travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.
In Australia, Sydney’s cases rose at the slowest pace in nearly two weeks on Tuesday, but officials said they needed to see a steady drop in daily cases before deciding whether the infection curve had flattened after 12 weeks in lockdown.
In Africa, Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine, after a six-month wait caused by his unwillingness to take the AstraZeneca shot.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday reported 617 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths.
In the Americas, the number of coronavirus infections and people hospitalized for COVID-19 in West Virginia have set new highs as Gov. Jim Justice scolds residents who continue to balk at getting vaccinated.
At least 40 per cent of the state’s people older than 12 have not received all doses. The governor said Monday that “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” He has balked at issuing either a vaccination or mask mandate.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET