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Compulsory care home jabs rule welcomed in East Lancs

A NEW requirement for care home staff to be vaccinated against coronavirus has been broadly welcomed in East Lancashire.

Blackburn with Darwen’s public health director Professor Dominic Harrison, care home manager Carolyn Skelly, Blackburn MP Kate Hollern, and Blackburn Central ward’s Cllr Mahfooz Hussain, who runs a company providing home care to the elderly and vulnerable, all backed the move.

Hyndburn Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson was more cautious.

The government last night announced all frontline care home staff must now have two jabs from October unless they have a medical exemption. They will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated.

It will also apply to agency workers and volunteers.

In Blackburn with Darwen borough 86.6 per cent of care home staff have been vaccinated while in the Lancashire County Council area the figure is 83.9 per cent.

Nationally care home operators have warned of problems in recruiting and retaining staff.

Prof Harrison said: “I support the call for all care home and domiciliary care workers to be vaccinated. It is important to respect and maintain everyone’s right to refuse any clinical intervention, including vaccination. Balancing these two human rights is difficult but I think the government has made the right decision.”

Ms Skelly, manager of the Hollymount Care Home in West Park Road, Blackburn, said: “I totally agree with it. I don’t think it will cause problems with staff recruitment and retention because if you work in a care home you want to protect the residents.”

Cllr Hussain said: “I thing it is a pretty good idea. I think it is worth the risk of losing or failing to recruit staff.”

Cllr Parkinson said: “I understand the logic of compulsory vaccinations for care home workers but there is a question of freedom of choice here. I am also cautious because there could be problems with the recruitment and retention of staff.”

Mrs Hollern said: “The evidence is clear having the vaccine protects the individual and those around them. I’m absolutely sure dedicated care home staff see the vaccine as a positive step. I also understand the need to ensure appropriate support for any staff subject to a medical exemption.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future. I’d urge anyone working in care homes to get their jab as soon as possible.”