The government has now confirmed the procedure for people in England, including care home workers, to apply for proof of medical exemption from vaccination.
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (‘the Regulations’) make it mandatory for care home workers to be fully vaccinated by the time the Regulations come into force on 11 November 2021.
The shortage of care home staff has been an on-going issue long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has served to place added pressures on the care sector. There has been an outcry against the Regulations because of the additional burden on the care system.
Procedure for individuals to apply for medical exemption from vaccination
In preparation for the new regime, the government has announced a procedure for individuals to apply for medical exemption from vaccination.
It has been established that vaccination is not appropriate for a number of people due to a limited number of clinical reasons. These people will be able to apply for a medical exemption which allows them to be granted with an NHS COVID Pass and a confirmation letter explaining that they are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. The confirmation letter must be kept and used if the individual works or volunteers in a care home after 11 November 2021. The NHS COVID Pass verifies the status of a medically exempt individual in the same way as those who are fully vaccinated and will not state that they have a medical exemption.
The current temporary self-certification procedure available for care home workers who cannot have a COVID-19 vaccine for a medical reason, will end on 24 December 2021. From 25 December 2021 those who are seeking to be medically exempt must have verified their status using the NHS COVID Pass through the use of the medical exemption application.
To apply for an exemption, an individual must call the NHS COVID Pass service on 119 to ask for a medical exemption application form. The form must be returned to the GP or clinician specified in it and is then clinically reviewed with the results being sent to the individual within two to three weeks.
The medical exemption procedure is not limited to care home workers, it can be used by any eligible individual in England and its use is not limited to the work environment. The NHS COVID Pass can be used in different settings such as travel or to enter certain events.
Jas Dubb from the Wilkes Partnership comments: “The Regulations and the NHS COVID Pass medical exemption come as part of the government’s ongoing roll out of the vaccination and drive to ensure that key workers and the rest of the workforce are vaccinated. It forms a part of their ongoing strategy to control infection rates”.