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Doctors: Is it your duty to be vaccinated?

One of the first groups offered COVID-19 vaccinations were healthcare workers. And whilst the majority of the workforce has been happy to roll up their sleeves and be vaccinated, a difficult question is arising on what should be done if workers chose not to take the vaccine.

COVID-19 poses an unprecedented threat to our NHS, and healthcare workers are in close contact with the country's most vulnerable people. With increasing talks about mandatory vaccinations for workers in healthcare and social care environments, we ask the question - do doctors have a duty to be vaccinated?

Our panel are:

Professor Simon Brake, Professor of Clinical Leadership and Management, Warwick Medical School.

As part of contributing to the response to the COVID-19 global pandemic from March 2020, Simon led the transfer of, and ongoing support for, over 500 medical students to working in the region's NHS, caring for patients in hospital and supporting local NHS services in maintaining core capacity. Simon also returned to NHS service part time with South Warwickshire FT at the George Elliot Hospital as Associate Director for Operations and Resources, leading on a number of aspects of COVID-19 response including vaccination and establishing as PI the SIREN trial at the Trust. In addition to teaching, Simon led the REACT-2 trial site at WMS, supporting Imperial College, also leading the WMS Restart programme, and leading and establishing The University's Covid-19 testing service as part of Test & Trace service & local pillar 1 NHS core services and end of term asymptomatic mass testing, as well as participating in and leading a range of research activity. Simon is also seconded part time to the DHSC and newly formed UK Health Security Agency to lead the new Very High Throughput Test & Trace labs in Strategy, Legacy & Partnerships, supporting future critical national infrastructure and resilience in preparing for future pandemics and complex genetic challenges in the years ahead.

Dr Mike Tildesley is a Reader in the Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology and Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research at the University of Warwick. He completed his Ph.D. in Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics at the University of Cambridge in 2003, but has been working in the field of mathematical epidemiology since then. His research focuses upon the development of models of infectious diseases and their utility as predictive tools. He has a particular interest in the predictive power of models in the early stages of disease outbreaks, when there is significant uncertainty regarding the spread of disease.

Dr Tildesley has strong links with policy makers, working closely with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) upon strategies for disease control.

Dr Tildesley is currently a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (SPI-M), the modelling subgroup of SAGE, and has been working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic upon the development of models to inform a range of policy questions in the UK.

Lorna Jones, Modern Matron and Member of the Vaccine Task Force, UHCW.

UHCW was the first hospital in the world to administer COVID vaccines. After a slowing uptake amongst staff, a Vaccine Task Force was created. Lorna was featured on the BBC series Hospital talking with staff who were hesitant about taking the COVID 19 vaccine. Watch the episode here

Dr Bhaskar Narayan MA MB BChir MRCP FFICM is an ST8 doctor in Intensive Care, Acute and Obstetric Medicine. He studied medicine at Cambridge University, including an intercalated degree module in Medical Ethics and Law. He undertook postgraduate training in London and Sussex, and is now completing his advanced training in Greater Manchester. He is an undergraduate ethics tutor at the University of Manchester Medical School.

Dr Narayan wrote this opinion piece.
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