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As COVID-19 vaccines are approved and rolled out, the National Health Service is delivering a mass vaccination programme:
Key workers, the clinically highly vulnerable and the elderly and other priority groups are receiving the vaccine first, but throughout 2021 both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be mixing in the community and in our workplace
Whilst two doses of vaccination greatly reduce the chance of suffering from COVID-19, the vaccine may not be 100% effective
The extent to which any vaccine will provide long-lasting protection against COVID-19 is unknown but re-vaccination will be probably needed
It is likely to take some time to vaccinate and revaccinate the entire UK population so risks will remain for some time.
The University strongly encourages all eligible staff to get vaccinated. The University fully accepts that vaccination requires an individual’s informed and voluntary consent.
While the vaccination can prevent serious illness in the person who has been vaccinated, trials to prove the extent to which vaccination prevents transmission of coronavirus are still ongoing. However having the vaccination enables every member of staff to contribute to wider public health by protecting themselves, family members, colleagues and the wider community by being vaccinated.
The University will provide paid time away from work to attend vaccination appointments.
At work, members of staff who have received their vaccination will still need to follow social-distancing rules as advised by Public Health. Brookes will also continue to consider other COVID-19 secure measures, including testing to keep staff and students at the University safe. COVID-19 is a reportable disease under the Reporting of Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) under certain circumstances, and having the vaccination can be a means of protection of other staff. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires the employer to take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce workplace risks to their lowest practicable level.
As we begin to return to site once again:
Existing COVID-19 risk assessments will be reviewed to reflect the availability of the vaccine to different age groups.
Special measures for any clinically extremely vulnerable staff will continue to be in place. Other COVID-19 secure measures will be reviewed and reasonable alternatives to or additions to vaccination such as continued working from home, social distancing, use of PPE, handwashing and focus on adequate ventilation where practicable, will continue to be considered.
As part of any Occupational Health assessment the OH Adviser will ask If an employee has had a Covid vaccination. To discharge their health and safety duty, the University will consider other steps that can be taken to protect staff if needed, where reasonably practicable.
At present vaccinations are voluntary across all sectors. The current Government position on mandatory vaccines may change however over time as the pandemic continues to unfold.
In relation to UK GDPR, the University’s Information Security Team have confirmed there are currently insufficient grounds to keep a permanent occupational health record of a member of staff’s Covid 19 vaccination status.
To assist with planning, business decisions and our health and safety obligations, the University will survey staff and students to gain a more up-to-date picture of the health risks and preventive measures, including current vaccination status, of the University community. Initial surveys will take place in June/July 2021, with repeat surveys if needed up to December 2021. The results of the surveys will be analysed and non-attributable information will be made available to senior managers to inform decisions for business continuity in this next phase of the pandemic and in planning for the academic year 2021-2022.
Prepared by: Christie Rainbird, Senior OH Adviser
Date of Publication: 1 April 2021