The RCN actively encourages its members to take up the COVID-19 vaccine. The NMC Code requires nurses to take measures to protect their patients and the public as well as to protect themselves against serious illness as a professional responsibility.
The vaccine reduces the individual’s risk of severe illness, it will also reduce the chance of you contracting the infection and thereby passing infection to others who are more vulnerable to serious disease.
Alongside PPE and social distancing, vaccination is a measure to reduce the risk. Employers should take all reasonable steps to support the vaccination of at risk staff. The RCN believes that this includes employers allowing these staff reasonable paid time away from work to attend vaccination appointments.
Under regulation 7 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002, employers are required to assess the risk to staff of occupational exposure to hazardous substances (including biological agents and pathogens) and take measures to control and reduce the risk of exposure. Under regulation 3 of the COSHH Regulations employers have a duty to risk assess and put in place control measures to extend to those who may be affected by the work carried out by the employer, this includes taking all reasonable steps to ensure agency and bank staff are protected, vaccinated and provided with PPE.
The RCN recommends taking up vaccination as best practice. RCN members who are refusing vaccination should refer to the section on refusal below.
How do I get the vaccine (NHS, agency, students and those outside the NHS)?
Any staff who have not been offered the vaccine should contact their employer to find out how to go about getting it in the first instances.
In England, frontline staff who have not had the COVID-19 vaccine can call 119 or book online.
In Northern Ireland: NI Direct
In Scotland: NHS Inform
In Wales: NHS Wales
The groups in the population eligible for vaccination are all detailed in the Green Book chapter for COVID-19 vaccination and recommends that temporary staff such as bank or agency workers, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients in the NHS or in an independent or voluntary setting, must also be included.
The vaccine programme for health and care staff is being rolled out through organisations those staff at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a health care environment, are considered of higher priority for vaccination than those at lower risk. This prioritisation should be taken into account during vaccine deployment.
Heath and social care staff
Care home providers can now access new government funding to ensure staff are paid their usual wages for the time and travel costs of going to get their COVID-19 or flu vaccinations.
It is in provider's best interests regarding infection prevention and control, to support their staff with full pay when off sick to help stop the spread of infection and maintain standards of care.
You can also see our COVID-19 and time off guidance.
Can internationally recruited nurses get the vaccine?
Yes, internationally recruited nurses working in the NHS will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine and will not need a GP/NHS number.