There has been much talk in the last few days about the decision by the government to make the Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for care workers. With 82 percent of care workers women1, the RCN Feminist Network felt it important to comment.
Nursing is an evidence based profession and it is important we look at the evidence around mandating vaccines and the effectiveness of such a policy – or risk succumbing to populism. The link between mandatory vaccines and vaccine uptake remain ambiguous. An EU report into compulsory vaccinations and rates of coverage in Europe between 2007 and 2013 showed countries with mandatory vaccines had no higher coverage than those without2.
Research has shown that when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccination, women are more vaccine hesitant that men3 and mandating vaccines will do nothing to address underlying concerns, and even has the potential to worsen gender health inequalities and promote vaccine conspiracy theory.
If the government wants to improve vaccine uptake, threating women’s livelihoods is not the way to go about it. The government needs to provide appropriate resources and funding for effective public health strategies. Ensuring concerns are listened to and acknowledged, along with making the vaccine as easy as possible to access.
Women still have the responsibility of being the main care providers for children and greater responsibility for home care, flexibility in accessing vaccines is essential in ensuring more women take up the vaccine.
For The RCN Feminist Network