Unvaccinated doctor challenges Sajid Javid over mandatory jabs for NHS staff 5 months ago

Unvaccinated doctor challenges Sajid Javid over mandatory jabs for NHS staff

08/01/2022

'I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination.'

An unvaccinated doctor has challenged health secretary Sajid Javid over the government's policy of compulsory Covid jabs for NHS staff.

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On a visit to King's College Hospital in south London, Javid asked staff members on the ICU there about their thoughts on new rules requiring vaccination for NHS workers.

Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist who has been treating coronavirus patients since the start of the pandemic, told the health secretary about his displeasure at the policy.

"I'm not happy about that," he said. "I had COVID at some point, I've got antibodies, and I've been working on COVID ICU since the beginning.

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"I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination.

"The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks for Delta, with Omicron it’s probably less.

"And for that, I would be dismissed if I don’t have a vaccine? The science isn’t strong enough."

In response, Mr Javid said: "I respect that, but there’s also many different views.

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"I understand it, and obviously, we have to weigh all that up for both health and social care, and there will always be a debate about it."

But Dr James said he knew of another colleague in a similar position, and called on the Health Secretary to "nuance" the rules because of the "changing picture" of the pandemic.

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He said: "Maybe there’s an opportunity to reconsider with Omicron and the changing picture or at least nuance it and allow doctors who have had antibody exposure, who have got antibodies, who haven’t had the vaccination to not have to have it, because the protection I’ve got from transmission is probably equivalent to someone who’s vaccinated."

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Javid reminded Dr James that his protection would also "wane as well."

"I respect your views and more than that I respect everything you’re doing here and the lives you’re saving," the health secretary finished by saying.

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Following the conversation, a spokesperson for King’s College Hospital said: "While currently, it is not a mandatory requirement for staff to get their COVID-19 vaccination or disclose vaccine status to patients, we strongly support and encourage all our staff to get their jab, in line with national guidance – and nearly 90% of our staff have already done so."

More than 90 percent of NHS staff have had at least two doses of vaccine, with more than 60 percent having had a booster.

In December, MPs approved measures to make vaccination mandatory for all NHS workers who have face-to-face contact with patients.