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In the U.K., everyone is required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines will be compulsory for those working in care homes. COVID-19 vaccines are not compulsory for the rest of the population.

A Facebook user who has spread anti-lockdown and anti-vax content recently posted the following: “There is a term for what is happening around the world right now; ‘Vaccism’. A term that encompasses the forceful erosion of bodily autonomy and the rise of a dogmatic ideology that demands that every living soul be vaccinated without consideration of efficacy, safety, need or ethics."

He accompanies this text with a screenshot of the headline and opening paragraphs of an article from the Daily Telegraph, which states: "NHS draws up plans to vaccinate 12-year-olds. Children would not need parental consent to get Covid jabs as trusts are told to prepare for rollout."

"Vaccism" is a new term that often crops up as a hashtag. The -ism suffix is reminiscent of other "-ism"s such as sexism, racism, and ableism: all of which are forms of discrimination. People who adopt this term often view mandatory vaccination policies as discriminatory and often express anti-vax or anti-COVID-vax sentiment.

In the U.K., where this Facebook user appears to be based, it isn’t true that “every living soul” is required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccinations are only compulsory for care home workers. As the BBC has reported, "anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two vaccine doses unless they have a medical exemption."

The legislation will take effect from November 11, 2021. For the rest of the population, COVID-19 vaccines are not compulsory. As the Welsh government has stated, "Staff should not be pressurised into taking a vaccination, but employers can help by providing information and offering paid leave for vaccination appointments and sick leave due to side effects. It is in the interests of employers to support the health and well-being of their workforce. Employers need to be careful they do not unlawfully discriminate against staff who have not been vaccinated."

According to the CIPD, the U.K.’s professional association for HR professionals, “The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 obliges employers to take reasonable steps to reduce any workplace risks; this duty gives employers justification for encouraging their employees to be vaccinated to protect themselves and everyone else at the workplace.” The CIPD emphasizes that dismissal should be a last resort in health and care work, and only if employers cannot find alternative work for those who refuse vaccination, acknowledging that there would be a legal risk to this approach.

Contrary to what the Facebook user says elsewhere in his post, the efficacy and safety of vaccinations have been carefully considered. Indeed, the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations has been proven time and time again, and innumerable fact checks have debunked the idea that COVID-19 vaccines are, as this Facebook user alleges, “experimental.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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