NHS doctor challenges Sajid Javid over Covid vaccination rules | health policy

An NHS doctor has challenged Sajid Javid over mandatory vaccines for health workers, telling the health secretary: “I have not had a vaccination; I don’t want a vaccination.”

The scene, captured by Sky News cameras, was first broadcast on Friday after Javid visited King’s College hospital in south London. It has been shared extensively on social media by critics and supporters of vaccine mandates alike.

The government has decided that all NHS staff in England who have direct contact with patients must have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine by February 3 or they risk losing their jobs by the end of March. On Friday, union leaders urged the government to delay the new rule or risk an exodus of thousands of health workers.

During a walk around King’s on Friday, Javid had asked doctors and nurses what they thought of the government’s plans to mandate vaccination for all NHS staff. After a short silence, Steve James, an anesthesiologist who has worked during the pandemic, replied, “I’m not happy about that.”

James told Javid: “I’ve had Covid once, I have antibodies and I’ve been working on Covid ITUs since the beginning; I haven’t had a vaccination, I don’t want a vaccination. The vaccine only reduces transmission for about eight weeks with Delta. With Omicron it’s probably less. And for that I would be fired if I don’t have a vaccine? The science is not strong enough.”

“That’s your opinion,” Javid replied. He turned to a group of nurses and added, “What about your opinion?” However, they did not respond.

Javid returned to James and continued, “I respect that, but there are also many different views.”

Javid added: “I understand that, but it’s clear that we all have to weigh that up for both health and social care and there will always be a debate about it…”

James replied, “Maybe there is an opportunity to rethink with Omicron and the changing picture, or at least the nuance that will allow doctors who have had exposure to antibodies, who have antibodies, who have not had a vaccination, to it, because the protection I have is probably equivalent to someone who has been vaccinated.”

“Yeah, but at some point that’s going to wane,” Javid said.

James said: “But if you want to provide protection with a booster, you would have to inject everyone every month. If the shipping protection wears off after two months, you’ll still have some protection after a month. But if you want to maintain protection, you have to boost all employees every month, which you are not going to do.

Javid answered his challenge by saying, “We take the very best advice we can, from vaccine experts.”

Half a day after the video was published on Twitter, it had been viewed about 1.2 million times.

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