Coronavirus: Up to one fifth of staff in some care home groups refusing vaccine

National Care Association says some staff are nervous about vaccines due to health or cultural reasons

Conrad Duncan
Sunday 17 January 2021 20:18
Dominic Raab says aim is to vaccinate all adults by September

Up to a fifth of staff in some care home groups have refused an offer of a coronavirus vaccine, with younger workers thought to be more likely to be resistant, new data has shown.

Figures obtained by the PA news agency from a number of care providers showed between five per cent and 21 per cent of staff offered a vaccine had declined it, potentially putting vulnerable residents at risk.

Boris Johnson has previously called on everyone to get the jab when asked, while care providers have said it is vital that staff and residents get the vaccine as soon as possible to prevent outbreaks.

Despite calls from care groups for daily figures, there is currently no regular data from the NHS or the government on how many residents and staff have been given the vaccine, or how many have refused a jab so far.

One large UK care home group, which asked to remain anonymous, told PA that more than half of residents and 36.8 per cent of staff had had at least one vaccine dose, as of 14 January.

However, they said 21 per cent of staff and 2.7 per cent of residents offered the vaccine had chosen not to take it up.

Nadra Ahmed, from the National Care Association (NCA), said about 6 to 8 per cent of care staff still remained nervous or resistant to taking the vaccine due to health and cultural reasons, down from 18 to 20 per cent at the start of the rollout.

However, she added that some staff members were being persuaded by seeing colleagues safely receiving the jab.

The NCA is also seeking legal advice on whether care workers could be forced to take the jab.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that the vaccine was the "most important tool” to protect people from Covid-19 and help return life to normal.

“Frontline health and care staff are quite rightly considered a priority for vaccination because they are at high risk of contracting the virus,” Professor Marshall said.

“Getting vaccinated will help protect themselves, their colleagues and their patients.”

He added: “Both vaccines that we're currently using in the UK have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they are safe and effective - as such, we'd urge anyone who is offered a jab to have one.”

As of 14 January, 47 per cent of residents and 37 per cent of staff in the 200+ homes run by Barchester Healthcare had been given at least one dose of one of the approved vaccines.

However, it is understood that 5 per cent of staff offered a jab so far have refused it.

When asked about vaccination rates, Care England said feedback from its members about take-up rates had been positive overall.

“We are working to make it as easy as possible for staff to be vaccinated. So far, we understand that the uptake has been good,” chief executive Professor Martin Green said.

“We would like real-time data from the NHS broken down by residents and staff so we can get a handle on whether this is a widespread problem.”

NHS England has urged GPs to complete all care home vaccinations by 24 January at the latest due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus among residents this month.

Additional reporting by PA

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