One of the UK’s most controversial Covid-19 prevention policies came into force last week, when care home workers were told: ‘No jab, no job.’

It’s the Government’s much debated plan – the first mandatory vaccination order for social care workers to try to push almost 40,000 unvaccinated staff into getting both doses.

All NHS employees will be subject to the same rules, however they still have to apply by April.

Studies show the jab reduces the chance of passing on Covid by at least 50 per cent, and Ministers say the policy will ‘protect disabled and vulnerable patients’ who may not respond well to the vaccine themselves.

But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP partner and chairman of the British Medical Association, called the policy irresponsible, predicting mass walkouts from NHS staff during the ‘immense pressure’ of the winter period. There are already about 105,000 care home vacancies. A Government report released on Thursday said that the NHS might lose 73,000 of its staff in spring.

Care worker, 36-year-old Louise Akester from Hull was sacked from her job because she refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19

Care worker, 36-year-old Louise Akester from Hull was sacked from her job because she refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19

Louise Akester (36-year-old care worker from Hull) was dismissed from her job after refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Louise Akester (36-year-old Hull care worker) posted video showing herself crying just minutes after she was fired for refusing a jab.

Although the jab deadline has been met, the chiefs of health say that it may take several weeks for the impact on staffing in care homes to be clear.

We spoke with a variety of healthcare professionals over the last week, and asked them why they would be willing to give up their jobs to get the vaccine. Their identities have been kept secret to prevent online abuse.

‘Nursing is the only thing I’ve ever known, since starting as a nursing assistant in 1998,’ said one woman. ‘But I will not follow medicine down this dark road.’

A 23-year-old social worker said: ‘I honestly don’t know what I will do. If I was a carer then I would have left by now, no hesitation, but most carers haven’t spent three years at university doing a specific degree for their job. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am.’

Care home worker David, 66, who has now quit his job, told The Mail on Sunday’s Medical Minefield podcast that he and his wife caught Covid in February 2020 on a flight from New Zealand to the UK, which he believes granted him enough ‘natural immunity’ to protect the residents in his care.

He said: ‘I don’t see why my right to make my own choice should be violated. My principles are my values and I will not be changing. If that means you don’t want me working in your company – fine.

‘My natural immunity was well demonstrated this year. I’ve been working in the care home alongside patients – many of whom caught Covid – for six days a week for a year and didn’t catch the infection.

One NHS worker complained: ¿I am being forced to have an injection against something to which I am already immune'

One NHS worker complained: ‘I am being forced to have an injection against something to which I am already immune’

‘I am being forced to have an injection against something to which I am already immune.’

David said he ‘isn’t necessarily anti-vaccine’ but has read online that the jab has not been subject to adequate medical trials. This is despite experts’ assurances that the Covid-19 vaccines have undergone greater medical scrutiny than perhaps any other widely used jab. He added: ‘I would like to go back to my old job. But for that to happen – as I explained when I resigned – logic, sanity and legality will need to return to the situation.’

However, how widespread are these views among healthcare professionals? Will mandatory vaccination prove to be as disastrous for the NHS, as it has been proposed?

‘We probably won’t see swarms of health and care staff leaving their jobs,’ said Dr Simon Williams, a public health expert at Swansea University. ‘These estimates are worst-possible-scenario predictions based on surveys that ask staff members how they feel about the vaccine, which doesn’t always reflect people’s true behaviour.’

It is estimated that 90 percent of NHS workers have been administered both Covid-19 jabs. That’s about ten per cent higher than the uptake for everyone over 12, which stands at about 80 per cent. Social care is less popular. According to statistics, 74.6% of the community’s care workers have had at least two doses.

‘Research shows the vast majority of unvaccinated people will be delaying the jab because they don’t really want it,’ said Dr Williams. ‘But if there becomes a reason to get it, such as to keep a job, they will be encouraged to do so. We’ve already seen this in other countries where Covid-19 vaccine mandates have come into force.’

According to Government figures, roughly 90 per cent of NHS workers have had both doses of a Covid-19 jab

According to government figures, around 90 percent of NHS employees have received both Covid-19 jabs.

New York City’s mayor introduced in July a vaccination mandate for public-facing civil servants. This includes firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel. The New York Police Department’s union warned that the force would lose 10,000 officers when the law came into effect on November 1. But only 34 officers quit.

A similar situation happened in France – unions warned that mandating jabs for medical staff would be a ‘health catastrophe’, but since it was introduced two months ago, just 0.1 per cent of health workers have been suspended.

‘Mandating vaccination is never ideal,’ says Dr Williams. ‘Research shows a small number who are on the fence may double down in their views, because they don’t like the idea of being forced.’

But he says a lot of these studies relate to non-healthcare occupations and were carried out in the US where vaccines are required by many employers, as well as schools – a culture linked to high rates of vaccine hesitancy and anti-vax communities.

In the UK, many healthcare workers are already required to have certain vaccines – in England, staff working with patients with open wounds must be vaccinated against the hepatitis B infection.

Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in disease control and a vaccines expert, said: ‘Healthcare workers have a duty to ensure they minimise their risk of infecting their patients – including, where appropriate, vaccination.’