Sajid Javid has said, care home workers who are not prepared to get the Covid vaccine should get another job.
The BBC reported, citing the health secretary as saying, he was not prepared to “pause” the requirement for care staff in England to be fully vaccinated by 11 November.
According to the BBC, Sajid Javid remarks come after warnings that some homes will be unable to cope if workers are forced to leave.
The National Care Association has urged the government to delay the jab deadline to give staff more time.
It says it will have a knock-on effect on the NHS if care homes have to cut resident numbers.
From 11 November, it will be mandatory for anyone who works in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England to be fully vaccinated, unless they have a medical exemption.
Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you work in a care home you are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our country and if you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated, then get out and go and get another job.
“If you want to look after them (care home residents), if you want to cook for them, if you want to feed them, if you want to put them to bed, then you should get vaccinated.
“If you are not going to get vaccinated then why are you working in care?”
The government has said compulsory vaccinations in care homes will save lives and claim it is “a sensible and reasonable step” to protect care home workers and the people around them.
Nadra Ahmed, National Care Association chairman, said care homes have already overcome significant resistance among staff to the vaccines.
In November last year she said just 40% of staff had said they would get it – but 86% of staff are now fully vaccinated.
She told Today: “We are not anti-vaccine. What we are saying is we needed a bit more time to get people where they needed to be.”
Without an extension to the deadline, the consequences for care homes and for the wider health sector will be severe, she said,
“The situation is chronic now with staffing and that deadline will just add to it,” she said.
“We will have providers who are no longer able to staff their services safely and that can only mean they will have to be handing back contracts.
“They will have to be looking at whether they can minimise the number of beds that they use to keep themselves open, which will have a direct effect on the NHS’s ability to discharge people out of hospital and into care settings.”