A coalition of charities has written a letter to employers to urge them to put protective measures in place for staff who have reduced protection from Covid vaccines.
Some individuals on immunosuppressive treatments have reduced protection from the vaccine, so the charities have called for more individualised support for employees “as a matter of urgency”.
This coalition proposes measures such as flexible start times so staff can avoid the risk of infection from travelling at peak times, that those who are more at risk can work from home where possible, and that employers continue to use the furlough scheme for those who cannot work from home.
The letter says: “It is welcome news that Covid-19 restrictions have started to ease. However, we want to highlight the ongoing importance of Covid-safe measures to those of your staff who may be at higher risk and, importantly, people who are likely to have reduced protection from the vaccine.
“Although the vaccine rollout has been a great success, there is developing scientific evidence that the current Covid-19 vaccines give much less protection to certain individuals, particularly those with a weakened immune response due to a specific health condition or because they receive certain treatments.
“Many people living with health conditions have told us they are worried that their needs will be forgotten as the general population return to something more like normal life.”
The charities urge employers to continue to follow HSE guidance on protecting the workforce and perform “comprehensive and individualised” assessments with those whose protection is likely to be reduced.
They should also emphasise the importance of continuing to follow Covid safety measures to the wider workforce, and support regular lateral flow testing.
Those at higher risk despite having the vaccine may also have greater need for mental health support, the letter adds.
The signatories to the letter include representatives from Age UK, Muscular Dystrophy UK, Diabetes UK, Kidney Care UK and Bowel Cancer UK. A total of 19 charities have signed the letter.