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Care home workers can declare themselves medically exempt from getting Covid vaccine without proof

The i 5 days ago Chloe Chaplain

Care home workers are able to temporarily self-certify if they believe themselves to be medically exempt from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine under new Government guidance.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to care staff in England to inform them that, for a limited time, they will be able to declare themselves exempt from rules requiring all employees to get jabbed.

It comes amid concerns that stringent vaccine rules could discriminate against those with medical conditions or cause carers to leave the sector – which is already suffering through a staff shortage.

The self-certification period will last for 12 weeks after a new system is launched which will require staff to apply for formal medical exemption through a GP or specialist.

Parliament approved new regulations back in July which made vaccination against Covid-19 a condition of employment for staff working in care homes in England.

A 16-week grace period was put in place lasting until 11 November to ensure staff who haven’t been vaccinated have time to get the jab.

Staff with a medical exemption will, however, be able to continue working without getting jab by applying through a new formal system.

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Until this launches staff will be able to declare themselves exempt if they fit into certain medical categories.

Examples included in the letter, sent on Wednesday, included those receiving end of life care, people with learning disabilities or autism, staff with vaccine allergies or pregnant women.

The Government said providing false information about being exempt could result in disciplinary action.

In a letter to care companies Claire Armstrong, Director of Adult Social Care Delivery, said: “The Department of Health and Social Care has been working as quickly as possible to ensure that people who are not able to get the vaccine for medical reasons are not disadvantaged.

“On a temporary basis, from today, people working or volunteering in care homes who have a medical reason why they are unable to have a Ccovid-19 vaccine will be able to self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria.”

“This temporary self-certification process has been introduced for a short period prior to the launch of the new NHS Covid Pass system which will go live imminently,” the letter went on.

“Once the NHS Covid Pass system is launched, care home workers will need to apply for a formal medical exemption through that process. This temporary self-certification will expire 12 weeks after the NHS Covid Pass system is launched.”

Staff will have to fill out a form and give this to their employer as proof they are exempt from the vaccine.

Individuals that have received a Covid-19 vaccination abroad can also self-certify as medically exempt.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “Over 90 per cent of care home staff have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the 11 November deadline and we encourage even more staff to get vaccinated to protect their colleagues and those they care for.

“Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system. This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.”

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