Sky News’ Kay Burley pointed out to the health secretary that “106,000 NHS staff are not vaccinated” at the moment, despite growing concern over rising Covid cases.
The presenter asked: “We’ve seen what happened in social care – are you considering going the same route with them?”
Burley was referring to the new rules coming into place on November 11 where workers in the social care sector will have to be vaccinated.
Javid replied: “We are considering it and we have been very open about that.
“The vast, vast majority of people I speak to in the care sector that’s exactly what they want – they know it’s not just good for them, but it’s important for the people they look after as well.”
Javid added that the public consultation on whether NHS staff should be vaccinated has just closed and the government is “yet to make a final decision”.
When pressed, the health secretary admitted: “Yeah, I am leaning towards [making it compulsory].”
He said he could not set out the exact date just yet.
He continued: “Those fantastic people working in the NHS are naturally more vulnerable to being exposed to diseases and viruses – and that includes Covid – but also the people they are looking after so well are naturally vulnerable, so it’s about looking after them as well and giving them the protection they deserve.”
However, Burley did also point out that this introducing this measure could only worsen the staff shortages already seen in the health service.
With 100,000 vacancies – approximately 40,000 of which are nurses and 10,000 of which are doctors – the NHS is expected to struggle in the upcoming winter.
Javid admitted: “We’ve had a long-running staffing problem.”
Yet he suggested that losing their jobs might encourage the unvaccinated health workers to get the jab.
He said: “If they haven’t got vaccinated by now, then there is an issue with patient safety.”
Javid also told BBC Breakfast: “NHS staff and care staff were rightly offered vaccines right from the start, they were a priority.
“Anyone in the care system that hasn’t taken the vaccine yet – that’s a conscious decision.
“They would understand it’s not only not good for them, but the people they’re caring for.”
He added: “Ultimately I think our NHS would be safer [if they got vaccinated].”
Back in September, the i newspaper reported that approximately 8% of the NHS workforce remained unvaccinated.