An estimated one in four staff in older adult care homes in England eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine have not yet taken up both, according to new figures.
A total of 73.9% of eligible staff were reported to be fully vaccinated as of June 27, according to NHS England, however, proportion fell to 67.9% in London, suggesting around a third of staff in the capital have not had both doses. To date it is believed that over 347,000 eligible staff have now been fully vaccinated.
Staff in older care homes are classed as eligible for the vaccine if they have not tested positive for Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.
The Government announced in June that from October 2021 all people working in care homes registered with the Care Quality Commission must have two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless they have a medical exemption.
The new law, subject to parliamentary approval, comes with a 16-week grace period aimed at enabling staff who have not yet vaccinated to be so. Volunteers in care homes will also be required to get vaccinated, as will those who undertake work at care homes, including hairdressers, tradespeople and inspectors.
Announcing the move, Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “People working in care homes have played an incredibly important role throughout the pandemic caring for those most at risk from this terrible virus.
“The vaccine is working, with over 14,000 lives saved so far. It’s only right that we take every possible step to protect those most at risk now and in the long term.
“I want to take this opportunity to urge everyone working in social care to take up the jab if they haven’t already to protect those they care for, themselves and those they work alongside.”
However, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said mandatory vaccination for NHS staff was an “incredibly complex issue that raises many ethical, legal and practical questions”.
He added: “Vaccine hesitancy is not the same as flat-out refusal, and there could be several reasons why some staff may be unable or unwilling to be vaccinated.
“Recent research has highlighted that pressurising health and social care workers can have damaging effects, leading to an erosion of trust, worsening concerns about the vaccine and hardened stances on declining vaccination.”
The petition against mandatory vaccines for care workers now has 69,000 signatories, the petition launched in June states that “We, the people, demand that health and social care workers are given the right to exercise free will in relation to any medical procedure and so to be able to refuse to take the covid 19 vaccination without fear of facing discrimination at work or in wider society.”