The New Year hasn’t brought the same feeling of a new start as usual, due to the fact that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic that continues to affect the lives of innumerable people. However, it can be argued there is the usual feeling of new year, new hope. This is due to the vaccine that the NHS is currently offering to those most at risk from coronavirus. In December 2020, the UK started to distribute the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, followed by the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. Furthermore, more centres are opening all the time. It is currently being administered to the following groups of people: people aged 80 and over, some people aged 70 and over, some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable, people who live or work in care homes as well as health and social care workers.
The aim is to get the most vulnerable people vaccinated by mid-February -15 million people. Following this, millions more people will be vaccinated by spring 2021; ore over 50’s and other priority groups. The government’s plan is to have the entirety of the adult population offered a vaccination by this autumn; potentially with a priority placed on front-line workers such as the police, the fire service and teachers.
With the introduction of the vaccine, there have been questions surrounding the legality of it and the position of employers in relation to requiring their staff to be vaccinated. Employers are unable to insist on vaccination without consent of the employee; forcing a reluctant employee to have a vaccination would be a criminal assault. Situations will undoubtedly arise in the coming months and years regarding the vaccination. However, employers must follow government guidelines and seek professional advice if they are unsure of how to proceed with or respond to situations that may occur. Furthermore, employers may still be liable for personal injury claims because of forced vaccines, even if criminal liability is not established.
This link takes you to the NHS page on the COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccination/about-covid-19-vaccination/