Sajid Javid has dismissed suggestions from Wycombe MP Steve Baker that he should tone down his criticism of people who choose not to be vaccinated.

The Health Secretary said those people eligible for a jab but who had not “bothered to do so” should understand the “consequences of their decision for the rest of society”.

Conservative former minister and Wycombe MP Steve Baker had asked Mr Javid to adopt an approach that avoided creating the “conditions for coercion and diversion”, as he raised concerns over Mr Javid’s remarks to the Commons.

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Mr Baker said: “Implicit in (Mr Javid’s) statement was the concept that we’ll all be held back by the decisions of the unvaccinated.

“If I may say so he used some quite heavy language to bring pressure to bear on the unvaccinated, talking about ‘standing on people’s shoulders’ and so on.

“Could I just say to him that wouldn’t it be better rather than creating what does seem to be the conditions for coercion and division, it might be better to say to the unvaccinated that you’ve made your choice to take a greater risk and we are not going to be held back as a society by your choices, you will have to bear the consequences.

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“Wouldn’t that be a more consistent and humane way to deal with them and to deal with us all without creating division?”

Mr Javid said his own initial comments were “factually correct” before adding: “The reason why this country is as free as it is now is because of the decision that nine out of 10 people have made to get vaccinated.

“Those people who made a decision when they could have been vaccinated – because they’re not medically exempt, for example – have chosen not do that and that has consequences.

“It doesn’t just have consequences for them, it has consequences for all of us.”

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Mr Javid recalled visiting King’s College Hospital in London last week, adding: “I was told by the consultant in charge when I went to the ICU ward that was looking after Covid patients, I was told they estimate that 70 per cent of those in the ICU ward were unvaccinated.

“If those people had got vaccinated, they not only would have been safer but it would have meant that space in hospitals could have been used for others – not just in ICU wards, if you look at the 17,000 Covid positive patients in our hospitals this is something that could have been prevented had those that were unvaccinated or decided not to take their booster shot had actually bothered to do so.

“So yes, getting vaccinated needs to be a positive choice, we need to encourage people, and with the exception of the health and social care high-risk settings it should not be done by compulsion, I don’t believe in that, I don’t think it’d work, I think it’s unethical to do so.

“But the people who have chosen not to get vaccinated should understand the consequences of their decision for the rest of society.”