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UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid is "leaning towards" requiring staff in the National Health Service (NHS) to be vaccinated against Covid-19, he said Monday.
"Those fantastic people working in the NHS, they are naturally more vulnerable to being exposed to diseases and viruses, and of course that includes Covid," Javid told British broadcaster Sky News.
"But, also, the people that they are looking after so well are naturally vulnerable. That is why they are at hospital, and it's about giving them the protection they deserve too."
A similar mandate already exists for workers in the care sector, said Javid. As of November 11 all care workers in England are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, he said, unless they are exempt under the regulations.
"There is the requirement in care system at the moment that you are vaccinated. And the vast, vast majority of people I speak to in the care sector, that is exactly what they want, because they know that it's not just good for them but - most importantly - it's important for the people that they are looking after so well," said Javid.
"In the NHS we are thinking of doing the same thing. We've been very clear about this."
A final decision is yet to be made, said Javid, who added that 93-94% of NHS workers are already vaccinated.
"What we saw with the care sector is that when we announced the policy, and then we set it in law -- November 11th is the sort of cut-off date -- then we saw many more people come forward and do the right thing and get vaccinated," he said.
"And that's what I hope that, if we do the same thing with the NHS, we will see."
UK authorities are also encouraging those eligible to get booster vaccines against Covid-19.
The NHS has already given four million booster doses and will contact eligible people to offer them a booster dose, according to a statement from the prime minister's office at 10 Downing Street published Saturday.
Everyone over 50 or at high risk from Covid-19 will be invited for a booster shot six months after their second dose.
- text by Nina Avramova and Jack Guy, CNN