Please see below a note on the WHO’s position on occupational vaccines by Ivan Dimov of WHO:

So far COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be efficacious against developing disease, but we don't know yet whether they are going to prevent the person from passing on the infection to others.

  • We need more evidence on this so it's really important that everyone who gets the vaccine continues to take precautions (physical distancing, use of mask, cleaning hands and avoiding crowded places), until we achieve the necessary population immunity to protect everyone in the community.
  • Whether a vaccination is made mandatory or not is up to countries to determine, however WHO does not recommend this strategy to increase vaccine coverage.
  • Our position is that it is better to encourage and facilitate access to vaccines that people recognize as being beneficial for their health and safety. For this, they need to be presented with the data and empowered make the right decisions.
  • There are very few examples of mandatory vaccines for other communicable diseases. In a few countries, they are tied up to school entry requirements for children. Evidence on the success of these measures to increase vaccine coverage is mixed. For adults, the only vaccine that is required for travel -mandatory in a loose sense – is the yellow fever vaccine.
  • There may be certain professional circumstances where vaccines are highly recommended, e.g. among hospital staff. In this case, we would anticipate a ‘strong recommendation’ for vaccination, rather than a mandate. For example, influenza vaccine is mandatory for health workers in some jurisdictions.  While this strategy has increased uptake of the influenza vaccine among health workers targeted, WHO does not recommend mandatory vaccination.  For further information on the benefits and challenges of mandatory influenza vaccine please see How to implement seasonal influenza vaccination of health workers (Page 15).

On 16th December 2020 WHO and UNICEF issued Guidance on developing a national deployment and vaccination plan for COVID-19 vaccines to help countries develop their plan for COVID-19 vaccine introduction. Table 5.1 provides details about estimating the target populations, including health workers, older people, persons with underlying health conditions, and other targets groups (such as essential workers, social employment groups unable to social distance, border protection staff).

Within countries, national authorities will have discretion on how to use their vaccines based upon their own situation and guidance from national policy making bodies, as well as upon recommendations and advice from the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), which recently released the following documents:

  • Evidence Framework to offer guidance for considering data emerging from clinical trials in support of issuing vaccine-specific evidence-based recommendations.
  • Values Framework for the allocation and prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination, which outlines ethical principles for subsequent guidance on target populations and policies on vaccine use.
  • Roadmap for Prioritizing Population Groups for Vaccines against COVID-19, which lays out the priorities according to different scenarios of vaccine supply and epidemiological situation.

This is the information on which Government have planned their vaccination program on.

Please bring the contents of this circular to our members attention.


Yours sincerely

General Secretary

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.