A government consultation on care worker vaccinations could have been hijacked by anti-vaccine activists after its findings suggested that two-thirds of disabled and older people would prefer that their care workers were not protected against Covid-19.
The story reported in Disability News Service said there was concern and surprise by Disabled People's Organisations and that the proportion of service-users and their friends and family who did not want their care worker to be vaccinated sounded "far too high”.
Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK, added: “Disability Rights UK supports government plans to make Covid vaccinations compulsory for all health and care workers, unless there is a medical exemption.
“We believe that all reasonable safeguards need to be put in place, to ensure that disabled people receiving care are protected from Covid.”
The report highlighted that 68% of people who claimed they were current service-users – or their relatives or friends – said they felt strongly or would prefer that those providing their care were not vaccinated against Covid-19.
More than 1,100 of those respondents who claimed to be a service-user or a relative or friend of a service-user – 58% of this group – said they felt strongly that the care worker should not be vaccinated. Meaning only 28% of this group said they felt strongly that the care workers providing their care should be vaccinated against coronavirus.
The government has already made it mandatory – with limited exceptions – for care home staff in England to be vaccinated, a measure that came into force on 11 November.
Disabled people who need social care support want to be safe from Covid
Svetlana Kotova, director of campaigns and justice at Inclusion London, also commented in the report. She said: “We know from experience disabled people who need social care support want to be safe from Covid.
“Vaccines are a good way to achieve this. However, we believe the government needs to be mindful when introducing compulsory vaccinations since there are huge staff shortages in the sector.”
The DHSC refused to tell Disability News Service if it was concerned that members of the anti-vaccine movement could have hijacked the consultation, and whether it would investigate the possibility.
A DHSC spokesperson told them that in addition to the 34,900 responses to the consultation, they also held roundtable events with royal colleges, representative bodies, and unions, to ensure a diverse range of opinion was represented through the process.
They added: “We have carefully considered the responses received, and set out our formal consultation response.”