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Return to workplace - vax and non-vax

Vaccinated and unvaccinated staff have incompatible positions

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This is not an accounting question, but I'm throwing it out there as there may be accountants' offices in similar positions.

A few of my clients are hoping for a full staff return to their workplaces in the coming weeks, Some staff, who are so far eligible for none or only one jab, have said that they have a right to know, in order to make an informed assessment of their own health and safety risk, whether others in the workplace have been partially/fully vaccinated. Other staff have said they do not intend to get vaccinated at all, or have claimed a right not to disclose such medical details to anyone. Is there any guidance for employers how to deal with such stalemate situations, morally and legally?

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By spilly
09th Jun 2021 17:48

Has any staff member ever raised a question about who has had a flu jab?
It’s also an infectious virus, and potentially quite harmful to anyone vulnerable.
Thought not.

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Replying to spilly:
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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 18:09

Thank you for speaking sense. You don't hear or see much of it these days.

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Replying to spilly:
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By jwgrogan
09th Jun 2021 18:46

spilly wrote:

Has any staff member ever raised a question about who has had a flu jab?
It’s also an infectious virus, and potentially quite harmful to anyone vulnerable.
Thought not.

If you're vulnerable you can take matters into your own hands and get a flu jab to protect yourself so you don't need to ask about others. Not everybody has been able to get a full covid jab protection yet and therefore may want to ask.

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Replying to jwgrogan:
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By spilly
09th Jun 2021 19:21

At the rate the vaccine rollout is going, everyone who wants to be vaccinated will probably be jabbed in the next couple of weeks.
For anyone who feels particularly vulnerable (for medical reasons only), maybe they can continue to work at home for another few weeks.
I don’t think that staff have the right to know anyone else’s vaccine status though.

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Replying to spilly:
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By Paul Crowley
09th Jun 2021 19:58

For medical reasons already entitled
Anyone who wants to stay at home can continue
Universal credit available to all

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Replying to spilly:
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By jwgrogan
10th Jun 2021 09:56

spilly wrote:

At the rate the vaccine rollout is going, everyone who wants to be vaccinated will probably be jabbed in the next couple of weeks.
For anyone who feels particularly vulnerable (for medical reasons only), maybe they can continue to work at home for another few weeks.
I don’t think that staff have the right to know anyone else’s vaccine status though.

Yes, but who knows what the situation will be by the time we get to the Omega variant, first identified from Gruinard.

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Replying to spilly:
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By Mr_awol
10th Jun 2021 11:58

spilly wrote:

I don’t think that staff have the right to know anyone else’s vaccine status though.

No they don't - but they do have the right to know that their employer has taken reasonable steps to ensure that their workplace is safe for them and others. The employer has an obligation to do so.

As such you may be able to resolve this be having a blanket policy for return to work based on vaccine status, protecting the business and also reassuring the staff

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By SXGuy
10th Jun 2021 14:30

Whilst discriminating against those who can't or chose not to have it. Pretty sure an employment specialist will love the extra work they get from that.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Mr_awol
10th Jun 2021 15:05

Who is being discriminated against, and how?

All i said was implement a policy based on status. That might be delayed return to the office/extension of homeworking. It might be additional testing. It might mean putting them all in a separate part of the building, limited use of communal facilities, requiring them to wear a mask on-site, not letting them go out to see clients, or a host of other adjustments.

If they have medical reasons not to have it then you are complying with the law by making adjustments just like you would for any other medical condition, disability, pregnancy, etc.

If they refuse to have it then you're voluntarily accommodating their choice by making adjustments to enable them to keep their livelihood despite the fact that they aren't willing to make voluntary adjustments to their own position to protect the health and/or livelihood of themselves, you, or their colleagues

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Replying to spilly:
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By Leywood
10th Jun 2021 18:59

But its not just the vulnerable who need protecting is it?

People with no underlying health issues have died of covid.

Can you compare the two? Perhaps in a couple of years you might be able to.

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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 18:08

So glad that these people have come forward to argue their case for medical freedom over their own bodies. I am sick and tired of hearing others who have expressed their own right to choose to have a jab, belittle others who chose not to. Mainly using unfounded opinion rather than sense to justify there actions in most cases.

I don't have an answer for how you deal with the stale mate, other than saying that if I were a decent employer I'd explain that either you believe to be protected by having the vax or you don't, and if you believe it works then those who wish not to have the jab are of no threat. If they don't like the answer they are free to leave.

Let's try and remember how those who have been genuinely exempt from wearing face marks have been treated over the last 18 months. Let's not devide people further.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By jwgrogan
09th Jun 2021 18:41

SXGuy wrote:

I don't have an answer for how you deal with the stale mate, other than saying that if I were a decent employer I'd explain that either you believe to be protected by having the vax or you don't, and if you believe it works then those who wish not to have the jab are of no threat. If they don't like the answer they are free to leave.

Yes, but people might rightly feel that they are not yet protected by the vax, if they have only been able to have none or one jab yet. Or they have only recently had the second, or they have had two jabs but have been told that because of their e.g diabetes, their immune system will not give them full protection.

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Replying to jwgrogan:
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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 19:21

No different to whether someone has not yet had their flu shot and may be worried about catching it from others.

We dealt with it fine then. Nothings changed.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By DJKL
09th Jun 2021 23:22

Except that Covid, unlike flu, is legally a reportable disease,

"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. COVID-19 is also a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (known as RIDDOR) which strengthens employers’ encouragement that employees should agree to vaccination."

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/health-safety/prep...

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By lionofludesch
09th Jun 2021 19:07

SXGuy wrote:

So glad that these people have come forward to argue their case for medical freedom over their own bodies. I am sick and tired of hearing others who have expressed their own right to choose to have a jab, belittle others who chose not to. Mainly using unfounded opinion rather than sense to justify there actions in most cases.

I don't have an answer for how you deal with the stale mate, other than saying that if I were a decent employer I'd explain that either you believe to be protected by having the vax or you don't, and if you believe it works then those who wish not to have the jab are of no threat. If they don't like the answer they are free to leave.

Let's try and remember how those who have been genuinely exempt from wearing face marks have been treated over the last 18 months. Let's not devide people further.

Anti-vaxxers are gormless ha'porths who need to be outed and ridiculed. They are a danger to society and need to be isolated on a far-flung island somewhere.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 19:20

Newsflash. Having a choice whether to vaccinate does not make you an anti vaxxer.

Plenty of people have chosen not to have this jab but are regular flu vax takers and have had their MMR

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By lionofludesch
09th Jun 2021 19:43

So what's your objection?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 19:55

Objection to what?

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By lionofludesch
09th Jun 2021 21:20

Can't think of an answer?

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By SXGuy
10th Jun 2021 14:31

I have plenty of answers just unsure of the question.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By jwgrogan
10th Jun 2021 09:02

SXGuy wrote:

Let's try and remember how those who have been genuinely exempt from wearing face marks have been treated over the last 18 months. Let's not devide people further.

Discrimination - recognising divisions between people happens all the time, to protect people themselves and the public.

Partially-sighted people are discriminated against as they are not allowed to drive - to protect the public.

People under the influence are discriminated against as they are not allowed to drive - to protect the public.

People who are pregnant or have broken limbs are discriminated against as they are not allowed to fly - to protect themselves.

Children are discriminated against as they are not allowed to drink in bars, gamble, have sex, buy guns, watch x-rated films etc etc - to protect themselves.

People who don't wear hard hats are discriminated against as they are not allowed on building sites - to protect themselves.

People who don't use the footbath are discriminated against as they are not allowed into swimming pools - to protect the public.

People who are unqualified are discriminated against as they are not allowed to become doctors - to protect the public.

People in Bolton are currently discriminated against as they are not allowed all social freedoms - to protect themselves and the public.

People who don't wear masks are discriminated against as they are not allowed to enter indoor public spaces - to protect the public.

etc.etc.

Discrimination is a tool for regulating public safety. It is bad when it is done with bad motives.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Mr_awol
10th Jun 2021 12:07

SXGuy wrote:

I am sick and tired of hearing others who have expressed their own right to choose to have a jab, belittle others who chose not to. Mainly using unfounded opinion rather than sense to justify there actions in most cases.

Devil's advocate alert.

You omit to point out that it isn't just those ridiculing the people choosing not to have a jab who are doing so on unfounded opinion - but, of course, those making such a choice are also doing so without a comprehensive knowledge of the facts.

The key difference, however, is that the medical/scientific community, plus governments worldwide, have decided - based upon all the available evidence, analysed by the best minds in the field, that it is important to get the vaccine.

So if you choose not to get the jab, and lion ridicules you for it, then whilst neither of you know what you are on about, Lion is at least basing his stance on expert opinion.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Leywood
10th Jun 2021 12:44

I often wonder what would happen if everyone was an anti-(covid) vaxxer.

Oh wait.....

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By SXGuy
10th Jun 2021 14:35

Debatable as to whether they are using the best scientific opinion. How many times has neil Ferguson been accurate with his modelings?

I don't really want to get in to a debate about who's right and who isn't, but I will say, that prior to march 2020 a lot of us remember not trusting MPs to tell the truth. How quickly we forget that.

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By Mr_awol
10th Jun 2021 15:29

Yes, because someone's next door neighbour Doris, who works for the NHS (was actually a cleaner but they dont tell you that) says it's just like flu.

Or some actual scientist - but one, compared to the many who dont share their opinion. Preferably you should mis describe their role (i.e Vice President of Pfizer).

I don't think it is vaguely debateable that the majority view of the best brains in the country - indeed the world - support vaccination, based on the information available.

Ferguessons 'failed predictions' have been misrepresented genrally. He never said 200m people would die from bird flu (figure taken out of context). He did predict, if no action taken, that about half a million people would die as a result of Covid. At least a quarter did, despite the extreme measures taken. Who knows how close his prediction would have been.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By 55378008
03rd Sep 2021 11:31

Just to offer an alternative viewpoint (I'm double-vaxed), even a flawed plan is better for our simple minds to embrace than no plan at all:

https://youtu.be/G0AXgaFqEas

(long version)
https://youtu.be/ylwMWpbv5Fk

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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 19:24

Do they have the right to know whether someone is not, or partially or fully vaccinated. No. They do not.

Does anyone have a right to ask about someone's medical history? No they do not.

Does the employer have a right to know? I'd say that's up for debate. I believe personally they don't, but no one as far as I know has argued the point in court, so it's open to abuse right now.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By DJKL
09th Jun 2021 23:14

No, but it has been argued in court regarding an employer's legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees, to evaluate all risks and mitigate such risks and of course documenting this process may also be important post event.

We have already had tenants asking what the vaccination status of contractors we have sent to work at their premises has been, I expect this sort of trend to continue.

We certainly have protocols in our office re who can enter, we have a barrier across the entrance for deliveries, signage etc, we have also documented what we have looked at, how we have perceived risk and how we have tried to address said risk.

Irrespective of one's personal views re Covid employers do carry a responsibility for premises under their control, such responsibility always exists irrespective of Covid, and it is a brave or foolish individual who lets his or her personal beliefs impinge on the legal responsibilities that he or she carries.

This link may be useful reading:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/health-safety/prep...

Plus more generally:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/employees/workplac...

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By DJKL
09th Jun 2021 23:36

"Employers can ask if employees have or have not been vaccinated but should have a good reason for needing to know, for example the safety of other employees. This information is sensitive personal health data and employers need to comply with the data protection rules."

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/health-safety/prep...

So it appears an employer can ask but may not be able, yet anyway,to insist upon an answer. I expect this may be a timing issue, the linked doc suggests the question of vaccine documents may be reported by HMG by 21st June although as indicated this may not cover workplaces.

"The government is running a review to consider whether to introduce a vaccine certificate or passport system. The review is specifically considering numerous aspects including privacy, legal and ethical issues, and whether employers can request COVID passports (assuming such a system is implemented). The review is headed by Michael Gove as part of the lockdown exit roadmap and the Prime Minister has already indicated that those who can't have a vaccine should not be discriminated against and it may be that any system will be focussed primarily on international travel and high risk or mass events rather than access to workplaces. The results of this review are expected by 21 June. The preliminary government indications on the 5 April suggested any certificates would cover both test results and evidence of having natural antibodies as well as vaccines. The potential status certification would not be used for public transport and essential shops and services."

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Replying to DJKL:
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By SXGuy
10th Jun 2021 06:24

Personally I'm disgusted at the way this is going. We talk about risk in the work place. I can't help but feel these risk assessments will be geared towards making that risk higher than what it is.

Consider that someone vaccinated is meant to have less risk of serious illness. Consider the actual recovery rate on average even without the jab, what risk exactly are people worried about?

My personal view is, this is nothing more than a way to remove medical data being private, and at the same time, enable others to coerse people in to having treatment they may not either want or need.

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By Tax Dragon
10th Jun 2021 07:27

What (also) depresses me is the thought that vaccine passports et al produce pressure on governments (and others) to understate the seriousness of the issue. There's already no way that you can believe the official stats of India or Brazil. Indeed our own stats likely understate the true number of deaths brought about by catching Covid.

But also... don't forget this long Covid condition. No idea whether there are reliable stats available for that - I haven't looked - but it seems to be much more prevalent then death. And in some cases, including otherwise fit and healthy people in their 20s and 30s, it sounds life changing (and not in a way you'd want your life changed) in its impact.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By DJKL
10th Jun 2021 19:55

You are perfectly entitled to your views, but if you are a responsible person vis a vis premises/employeees, then you are risking quite a lot if you pitch your view and act on it against the prevailing view of world experts and are subsequently shown to be wrong, in such an event you have no reasonable defence , however if you follow prevailing advice and it is proven wrong at least you do have a defence.

IMHO viewing the matter in a similar way to that argued via Pascal's Wager is the most sensible approach to take.

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By spilly
09th Jun 2021 19:24

This could end up being like Brexit - a taboo subject in the office as it divides people too much!

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By SXGuy
09th Jun 2021 19:31

That's exactly what it is like.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
10th Jun 2021 09:01

not really. With Brexit you had science, evidence and expert opinions on one side and you had some heart felt but rather illogical opinions which twist and turn at every point to try and hold together their internal contradictions, and events time after time prove the incorrect.

Hang, on, just like Brexit!

Anti-vaxers are fortunately in a much small majority than brexiteers or the country would be in even bigger a mess.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By lionofludesch
10th Jun 2021 09:57

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Anti-vaxers are fortunately in a much small majority than brexiteers or the country would be in even bigger a mess.

Anti-vaxers are a majority ?

I'm not sure that's right.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
10th Jun 2021 11:48

lionofludesch wrote:

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Anti-vaxers are fortunately in a much small majority than brexiteers or the country would be in even bigger a mess.

Anti-vaxers are a majority ?

I'm not sure that's right.

Heh, well pointed out! minority/majority. plus or minus. Debit credit. All the same innit. Past edit point!

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By Tax Dragon
09th Jun 2021 21:26

I thought the question was about people who want to be protected by having the jab(s), but who have not yet had them, being concerned about working with other people who have not had the jab(s) for whatever reason - and being forced to work thus.

I'm not sure what SXGuy thought the question was.

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By Hugo Fair
09th Jun 2021 21:27

Would it currently be legal for an employer to disclose the medical history of one employee to another? No.
Will it become so (if only indirectly by requiring some kind of vax 'passport')? Less certain, but quite probably.
[It won't technically be a disclosure of confidential data - just allow an employer to restrict access within certain areas/functions to those who can demonstrate they are fully vaccinated. This will happen in some medical & care environments, probably also for certain travel and quite likely for indoor 'mass groups' where ventilation cannot be relied on].

Why? Irrespective of people's perceived rights/freedoms, the state has a duty to protect the health of citizens (where possible) and the function of the NHS (where the prior objective has failed to be met).
And the vaccination, at best, doesn't guarantee immunity to infection ... it does two main things - a) it substantially reduces the ability of the person, if they become infected, to transmit the virus to others, and b) it massively reduces the impact that covid-19 has on the person if they become infected.

So, allowing unvaccinated people to mingle with a vaccinated group means:
* increasing the likelihood of transmission (from the protected to unprotected);
* increasing the likelihood of transmission but less so (the other way round);
* increasing the likelihood of severe reaction/death amongst the unprotected.
In short, an unnecessary petri dish with the potential to breed the next surge.

By default, I'm an individualist who doesn't take kindly to being told what to do ... but then there's common sense (and how to cope with those missing it).

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By SXGuy
10th Jun 2021 06:31

Someone vaccinated poses just as much or indeed as little risk as someone who's recently had covid, how do we assess those people in the work place? not by pcr or lft testing because as we know they can't actually tell you whether your infectious or not.

Further, you may not be aware but domestic passports have been scrapped. They received to much backlash for it. Wasn't widely publicisied, but then nothibg that goes against gov narrative is.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Hugo Fair
10th Jun 2021 11:54

I understand that you feel strongly ... though am less sure as to what specifically.

FWIW I've no idea what a "domestic passport" is, and I never mentioned them.

The only point I made about vax passports is that they are already here (what else is the NHS app that shows your vaccination status and is required to be shown before accessing certain services/areas) ... and, despite what you say, there's already legislation being drafted to broaden their application.

None of which changes the central argument I see so far on this page between the "I'm alright Jack" attitude of some and those attempting to take a more holistic approach. A veritable chasm that will no doubt be played out across offices and factories all over the country for the next few years.

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By Mr_awol
10th Jun 2021 12:29

SXGuy wrote:

Further, you may not be aware but domestic passports have been scrapped. They received to much backlash for it. Wasn't widely publicisied, but then nothibg that goes against gov narrative is.

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-vaccine-passports-to-be-used-at-wembley...

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Replying to SXGuy:
By Duggimon
10th Jun 2021 13:56

SXGuy wrote:

Someone vaccinated poses just as much or indeed as little risk as someone who's recently had covid, how do we assess those people in the work place?

Cite your source or stop making things up to support your unfounded arguments.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By Tax Dragon
10th Jun 2021 14:33

It's probably roughly true though. Having had Covid gives you antibodies. The vaccine gives you antibodies. So vaccine passports and antibody testing (for having recently had it) often get mentioned in the same sentence.

Personally, I'd much rather get the antibodies from a vaccine. Why risk the alternative (if you have the choice)?

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
By Duggimon
10th Jun 2021 14:42

I misunderstood what SXGuy was getting at there, my bad.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By SXGuy
10th Jun 2021 14:46

My sources? Are you serious? My sources are the fact that when you have the jab, or have had covid, you retain antibodies? What source would you like? BBC bytesize foundation science?

Edit; I see you miss read my comment so that's cool, no probs.

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By Mr_awol
10th Jun 2021 15:37

Again, devil's advocate alert (and no HP here either)

I doubt whether having actual covid gives the same protection as a vaccine. Vaccine efficicicienicay apparently starts low after one shot and increases after two. Without the brain power to understand why, i think it is safe to assume that there will be a percentage efficcicciciciciy attributable to actual covid and that percentage cannot be the same as one shot AND two shots, any may not be the same as either.

It is entirely possible that one shot may be least effective, then covid, then two shots - or covid, then one shot, then two. Or one shot, then two, then Covid. Obviously vaccines rely on 'weaker' infection for a shortened period, but do have two (spaced apart).

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By spilly
10th Jun 2021 18:32

There have been several reports that having Covid plus one jab is giving roughly the same result as having two jabs. Therefore having had all three, I must be super-antibodied-up now!

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Replying to spilly:
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By Mr_awol
11th Jun 2021 09:58

spilly wrote:

There have been several reports that having Covid plus one jab is giving roughly the same result as having two jabs. Therefore having had all three, I must be super-antibodied-up now!

Thanks. Makes sense but as i say i had no idea on percentages.

However, as much as you may have triple-protection, if Covid + 1 jab = the same as two jabs then it would follow that covid on its own probabloy offers less than two jabs (and youd think more than one jab).

The point being that whether it is more, or less, it almost certainly wont be "the same" protection.

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By lionofludesch
09th Jun 2021 22:24

John, why don't you get your staff to take a lateral flow test every morning before work?

Negative - they can work in the office. Positive - they go home and self isolate on sick pay.

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