Encouraging immunisation for staff in Early Years

Encouraging immunisation for staff in Early Years

March 16, 2024

Recently we have heard from a couple of nurseries keen to make immunisation against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) compulsory for all staff. This was in response to a rise in cases of measles in the UK.

As a HR Consultancy it drew parallels with us with the mandatory vaccination with the COVID 19 vaccine for staff who worked in Care Homes during the pandemic. This led to dismissals for care staff who were then, in many cases. reinstated when the ruling was withdrawn.

Why is immunisation importance amongst the general population?

Immunisation against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) plays a crucial role in the health of women who wish to conceive, as well as the well-being of their future children. These diseases can have severe implications for both maternal health and fetal development, making vaccination a key preventative measure.

Measles, while often thought of as a childhood illness, can lead to serious health complications in adults, including pregnant women. These complications can range from pneumonia to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and can also increase the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and even miscarriage. Immunisation against measles prior to pregnancy can significantly reduce these risks, ensuring a safer pregnancy and a healthier start for the baby.

Mumps, another viral illness, poses specific risks to pregnant women, especially in the first trimester. Although it’s less commonly discussed in the context of pregnancy, mumps can increase the risk of miscarriage. Although congenital mumps (mumps passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy) is rare, the risk to the mother’s health and the potential for miscarriage make the MMR vaccine an important preventative step for women planning to become pregnant.

Rubella, also known as German measles, is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies. If a woman contracts rubella during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester where it can lead to miscarriage and it can lead to congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in the newborn.

CRS can cause a range of severe birth defects, including heart disorders, deafness, and brain damage. Vaccination against rubella before pregnancy can nearly eliminate the risk of CRS, protecting both maternal and fetal health.

The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent these diseases and their associated risks to pregnant women and their babies. It’s generally recommended for women of childbearing age to ensure immunity before conceiving.

However, it’s important to note that the MMR vaccine is a live vaccine and should not be administered during pregnancy.

Women planning to become pregnant are advised to talk to their GP to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccination well before conception. The MMR vaccine is available for free on the NHS with no upper age limit.

Further information is available in the NHS’s Thinking of getting pregnant? leaflet.

Can I make my staff get vaccinated?

The simple answer is no you can’t force reluctant staff to get vaccinated .You can encourage vaccination and you would in particular want to encourage women to find out their vaccination status before they start a family. If they are uncertain whether they have received both does of the MMR vaccines you may want to grant paid time off for them to receive the vaccine as part of your strategy.

This page has posters you can download to encourage vaccination.

Sector wide mandatory vaccination can only be determined by law. Employers can encourage vaccination but it is felt the making vaccination mandatory in your nursery would be potentially indirect discrimination for those who have compromised immune systems for whom vaccination would not be possible. Furthermore if an employee refused the vaccine, and they have to give consent to being vaccinated, and you decided to dismiss, would the dismissal be considered a fair response?

Do let us know if we can assist you with any HR question in your Day Nursery, Pre-school or Out of School Club, 01527 909436.

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