Covid-19 vaccinations will be made compulsory for NHS and care home workers, ministers are preparing to announce.
Under the plans, staff working with adults will be given 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.
It comes as the Government opens a consultation on Thursday into the proposal as a measure to protect the most vulnerable from contracting Covid-19.
According to the latest uptake figures, 16 per cent of care home workers and one in 10 – or 151,000 – NHS workers have yet to receive the vaccine. Health and care workers were among the first to be offered the vaccine.
Multiple care groups and unions have raised concerns about mandatory vaccination.
Critics of the proposal have raised ethical queries and have warned that compulsion could harden opposition in those who are hesitant to be vaccinated.
Responding to the plans, the British Medical Association, which represents doctors said “compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks”.
“While some healthcare workers are already required to be immunised against certain conditions to work in certain areas, any specific proposal for the compulsory requirement for all staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 would raise new ethical and legal implications,” a spokesperson told The Guardian.
The Royal College of Nursing has also signalled its opposition to mandatory jabs saying: “It’s essential that staff have the opportunity to fully understand and have autonomy over what goes into their bodies.”
The move also faces political opposition with Labour previously describing it as “threatening”.
The UK’s human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has however concluded it is "reasonable" to legally require care home staff to be vaccinated.
But it did advise that safeguards should be included to minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions including for staff who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
The Telegraph first revealed in March that care home workers would be required by law to have the Covid-19 jab under a historic legal change supported by the Prime Minister and the health secretary.
The following month the government announced provisional plans to force care homes to include a requirement to be vaccinated in contracts with staff subject to a five-week consultation.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, previously said of mandatory jabs for care workers: "Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes, and so save lives.
"The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to Covid-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe.”
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) did not deny that ministers will approve the measure for social care workers in England on Tuesday night.
A DHSC spokeswoman said: "Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.
"Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a Covid-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption."
She added that the department’s response to the consultation will be published "in due course".