'I am pro-vaccine, but I am also pro-choice'

East Devon MP Simon Jupp during a recent visit to Greendale Vaccination Centre

East Devon MP Simon Jupp during a recent visit to Greendale Vaccination Centre - Credit: Simon Jupp

I will always encourage others to come forward for their Covid-19 vaccinations. I’ve had my first two jabs and my booster.

The government has done an incredible job securing and distributing vaccines, the NHS and volunteers are doing an amazing job getting jabs into arms with 90% of people in East Devon choosing to get vaccinated. 

It’s a sensible choice with obvious benefits. It severely reduces the impact of the virus if you get infected and cuts down the risk of transmission too. 

However, while I am pro-vaccine, I am also pro-choice. 

Getting jabbed should always be your choice. That’s no longer the case for some people. Mandatory vaccination of NHS and social care staff is now government policy. No jab, no job. 

Doctors and nurses are required to be vaccinated against some things depending on their job contract. 

But this blanket legislation is the first time vaccination has been legally mandated by government. And this mandate applies to support staff too such as porters and receptionists – anyone who might have face-to-face contact with patients. 

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It will have a big impact on overall NHS staffing with 80,000 people unvaccinated. 6% of the entire workforce. 

By next week, all NHS staff will need to have their first jab or will face the sack in April for not being fully vaccinated. 

We cannot afford to lose people who’ve worked hard throughout the pandemic and we shouldn’t lose their skills as we tackle long waiting lists. 

I understand the numbers of unvaccinated healthcare staff working in our local hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists is lower than other parts of the UK. 

But I have spoken to people in East Devon who do nonetheless face losing their jobs over a jab. 

Most are nervous, not anti-vax conspiracy theorists. More work is needed to convince people to get the jab. 

I didn’t vote with the government on mandatory vaccination for social care or NHS staff. Sacking 6% of NHS staff isn’t a sensible solution when recruitment is already a challenge. 

I hope the government pause and reflect on their plan to avert disaster.