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COVID-19 is a deadly infection that’s killed more than 50,000 people in the UK. Scientists are getting closer to rolling out a coronavirus vaccine, and the Government has already launched plans to deliver millions of vaccinations. But has the UK ever had a compulsory vaccine before?
Coronavirus has forced England into a second national lockdown, with cases continuing to rise.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the four-week lockdown at the start of November.
But over the past few weeks, hopes for a coronavirus vaccine have also been growing.
When the vaccine does arrive, however, it won’t be mandatory.
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Everybody will have the option to choose whether they want to have any COVID vaccine in the future.
While it’s highly recommended, the government doesn’t have the power to order any medical treatments, including vaccinations.
The Coronavirus Act, which was introduced in March 2020, extends this law to all parts of the UK.
By extension, the government cannot separate different parts of the community, based on whether they’ve had the vaccine or not.
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Has the UK ever made a vaccine compulsory?
No medical vaccination has ever been forced upon the UK public.
Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, the Government has the power to try and mitigate any infectious disease or outbreak.
That’s how Boris Johnson managed to pass nationwide lockdown rules through the House of Commons.
But, the same act makes it clear that “the power to make such regulations does not include mandatory treatment or vaccination”.
It is still suggested that everybody gets the coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible.
There aren’t any downsides to being vaccinated, and there are a number of strict protocols in place to make sure that the vaccines are safe.
The World Health Organization said: “Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines should go through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large (phase III) trials that involve tens of thousands of people.
“These trials, which include people at high risk for COVID-19, are specifically designed to identify any common side effects or other safety concerns.”
Elsewhere, NHS plans for a staged vaccination program have been leaked.
The Health Service Journal has revealed that all adults would have a chance to get the vaccine when supplies become available.
Everybody that chooses to get vaccinated will have had it by the end of April 2021.
The list of ages and dates proposed for vaccination are:
- From the start of December – Care home residents and staff, as well as healthcare workers
- Mid-December – Ages 80 plus
- Late December – ages 70-80
- Early January – ages 65-70 as well as all high and moderate risk under 65s
- Mid-January – Everyone aged 50-65
- Late January – Everyone aged 18-50
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