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Vaccination as Condition of Employment

What does Vaccination as Condition of Employment (VCOD) mean?

On 6th January 2022, the Government made new legislation which amended the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

This extends the scope of the existing mandatory vaccination requirements for staff beyond registered care homes which came into force in November 2021 to all frontline staff in CQC regulated healthcare settings in England. This includes all NHS and independent health care services.

Staff must be vaccinated (unless medically exempt) as a condition of deployment.

Why have they brought this legislation in?

Making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in health and adult social care settings is intended to:

• Protect all those who use health and care services, a large number of whom are vulnerable, as well as the wider community.

• Protect workers themselves by increasing vaccination rates.

• Help reduce COVID-19 related sickness absences

Who does this apply to?

This applies to frontline workers, as well as non-clinical workers not directly involved in patient care but who may have face to face contact (including incidental contact) with patients. It also applies to ancillary staff such as porters, cleaners and receptionists.

Clients will determine which roles are in scope of the regulations based on their local arrangements and will provide this information to Acacium Group companies at the time of booking.

Where does this apply?

Wales, Northern & Republic of Ireland & Scotland are not covered by the regulations and we will continue to follow their existing guidance when placing you into these jurisdictions.

It also does not apply to settings that are outside of the CQC regulated activities. This includes areas such as, but not limited to Schools, Universities, Clinical Trials, Covid Testing companies & Cruise Ships.

When does it come into force?

The regulations come into force in England only from 1 April 2022.

What happens from 3 February 2022?  

This is the last date for workers who fall in scope of the regulations to get their first dose of an authorised vaccine (unless exempt) so that they can be fully vaccinated with a complete course by 1 April 2022.

Under current guidance 8 weeks are required between the first and second vaccine dose.

Workers who have not received it by this date but intend to get it, will not be able to work in these settings after 1 April until they have completed their full course. This means 8 weeks between doses and 2 weeks after their second dose.

What happens if I am not fully vaccinated or I do not provide evidence of vaccinations or medical exemption by 1 April 2022?

Workers who have not provided evidence of vaccination status or medical exemption will not be able to work in any CQC regulated settings where they may have patient contact either directly or incidental after 1 April 2022. There is a statutory requirement to comply with the law and we are unable to continue to place workers without the required evidence, as to do so would be a breach of the regulations.

Will I be able to continue working for Acacium Group companies after 1 April 2022?

Workers may be able to be placed into work in non-CQC regulated settings dependent on shift/assignment availability and providing they have the correct skills and experience.

As the majority of our clients are CQC regulated providers for whom vaccination is a condition of deployment, we anticipate that unvaccinated workers or those for whom vaccination status cannot be ascertained will see a decrease in the volume of work available.

As per your signed contact with us, we make no representation that we will find a suitable position for you, that there may not be any work that meets your requirements and we are not obliged to offer you work.

Can a client provide any waiver for me to continue in my role without being vaccinated?

No. This a statutory obligation, required by law and failure to comply would be breaking the law. Acacium Group companies will not accept any waivers for workers to continue on existing/new assignments without the required evidence of vaccination or formal medical exemption.

I am unsure if I want to have the vaccine?

We understand that there are still some workers who are reluctant or hesitant to have the vaccine. Whether to be vaccinated or not, it is a personal decision, based on many factors.

We would encourage you to speak to your GP, local Occupational Health Department or contact NHS 119 if you have any further questions around vaccination. You may also want to look at COVID-19 vaccination information resources from NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care.

What evidence do I need to provide?

The NHS COVID pass, or equivalent from NHS Scotland, NHS Wales or the Department of Health in Northern Ireland; or

• The EU Digital COVID Certificate; or

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card; or

 • A certificate in English, French or Spanish issued by the competent health authority which contains:

a) Your full name

b) Your date of birth

c) the name and manufacturer of the vaccine that you have received

d) the date that you received each dose of the vaccine

e) details of either the identity of the issuer of the certificate or the country of vaccination, or both.

NHS appointment/Covid Vaccination record cards cannot be used as proof of vaccination status.

What if I was vaccinated abroad?

Workers who were vaccinated abroad will be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status. If the vaccination is listed on the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) approved list your vaccination can be confirmed. If it doesn’t not appear on the list, a top-up dose with a UK authorised vaccine consistent with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance on vaccines may be required.

How can I apply for a medical exemption?

To apply for a medical exemption, telephone the NHS COVID Pass service on 119 and ask for an NHS COVID Pass medical exemptions application form. The call handler will ask you some questions, and will send an application form by post, if you are eligible to apply.

Send your application form to the GP or relevant clinician stated on the form.

Your application will be clinically reviewed by your doctor, specialist or midwife. Your GP, specialist or midwife may ask to speak with you if needed and will submit your form once completed.

You’ll automatically get the results of your application by post once your application has been processed.

If your application is accepted, this will display on your NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass is the accepted evidence of vaccination status for mandatory vaccination.

If we have not received your medical exemption by 31 March 2022 you will not be able to continue or be placed into a CQC regulated role. We may be able to seek a non-CQC regulated position for you in the meantime.

What if I am declining the vaccination because I am pregnant?

Under the legislation, pregnant workers can obtain a temporary exemption certificate which will be valid until 16 weeks post birth. 

What if I am declining the vaccination because of my religion or belief?

Under the amendments to the legislation in England there is no exemption for not being vaccinated for religious or philosophical belief reasons.  

Who can I contact if I need further support or advice?

You can contact your regular consultant/team or email vcodhr@acaciumgroup.com