Friday Five

Compulsory vaccines for care staff, EU tensions and surges in children’s mental health demand – this Week’s Friday Five

Care homes caution against compulsory vaccines

Care home workers will be legally required to get a Covid-19 vaccine if Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock’s request is voted through.

Hancock said, “It is something that we are looking at because people who are looking after elderly residents in care homes, who we know to be the most vulnerable to Covid, they have a duty of care not to pass on the disease and it is a reasonable question.”

Care home operators have responded negatively to the potential change. Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said “The group that are regularly reported as not wanting the vaccine are those who have questions about fertility. To suggest an employer might be required to force someone to take a vaccine in that position would be extraordinary.” He also voiced concerns that the new requirement could reduce numbers joining care work.

Read the full story in the Guardian.

EU summit says AstraZeneca must “honour its contract”

AstraZeneca have been told they must “honour its contract” with European member states before exporting vaccines elsewhere, following a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday to discuss vaccine distribution.

The UK and World Heath Organisation has accused the EU of vaccine nationalism as a result of potential introduction of vaccine export bans. Urusla von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, responded that the EU is the “region that exports most vaccines worldwide”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed this, saying that the EU “not only supplies itself, but also exports to the world – in contrast to the US and Great Britain”.

Read the full story in the BBC.

Unprecedented pressure on children’s mental health services

There are no inpatient beds for children’s mental health services across England, says member of Royal College of Psychiatrists’, Rory Conn.

“Whilst sadly it is not uncommon for young people to travel long distances for an admission, and there can be delays to access beds, this is typically in the order of days, rather than weeks or months. We are now hearing there is no capacity anywhere, and this will be for the foreseeable future,” Conn explains.

Last month, hospitals reported extreme shortages of mental health beds. This has led to more admissions to general acute wards where the healthcare staff do not necessarily have the training or resources to deliver specialist mental health services. Dr Agnes Ayton, chair of the eating disorder faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’, said this had “massively increased” during the pandemic and criticised a lack of funding.

Read the full story in the HSJ.

Covid vaccine hesitancy is improving

More than 80% of people who were unsure about having a Covid-19 jab in December decided to accept a vaccine by February.

According to a study with data from nearly 15,000 adults in England and Wales, results were consistent across all ethnic and social groups and there appears to be a positive shift. However, there are some groups who remain particularly hesitant. This includes young adults and those from black and white other ethnic backgrounds. When asked, “would you accept a Covid-19 vaccine if offered?”, 25-35 year-olds were found to be nearly 9 times more likely to answer “no” compared to over 75s.

Read the full story in the Guardian.


Quote of the week

On Thursday, MPs voted to extend Covid emergency laws until September 2021 – with a majority of 408. This comes following vocal opposition from Conservative backbench MPs after this week’s suggestions for vaccine passports for entry to pubs and the prospect of ongoing regulations.

MP Mark Harper described the restrictions as:

“The most draconian detention powers in modern British legal history”

Read more at Sky News.