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Unions react angrily to adult care home vaccination plans

British labor unions reacted angrily Wednesday to reports that the government plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations for people who work in care homes for older adults in England.

Newspapers, including the Guardian and the Times of London, reported that the government plans to introduce the requirement after deciding that vaccinating care home workers would protect vulnerable residents.

Ministers are expected to announce their decision in the coming days, along with a public consultation on extending the vaccine requirement to National Health Service workers.

The GMB union said the government should focus on persuading workers to get vaccinated rather than imposing mandates that might alienate staff members. According to the union, more than a third of care home workers indicated they would consider leaving their jobs if they were forced to be vaccinated.

GMB called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government to improve pay and working conditions for care home employees and to bring mobile vaccination clinics to care homes to make it easier for them to receive shots.

“Instead, ministers are ploughing ahead with plans to strong-arm care workers into taking the vaccine without taking seriously the massive blocks these workers still face in getting jabbed.” GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said.

Some 84% of staff in care homes for older adults in England have had at least one dose of vaccine, and almost 69% have had both shots, according to NHS data.

But vaccination rates vary across the country. In the borough of Hackney, in east London, for example, just 67% of care home workers have had their first dose and 59% have gotten two shots.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine