More than a quarter of care home staff not recorded as having vaccine in Lancashire
Just under 72 per cent of care home staff are recorded as having the vaccine in Lancashire as UNISON warns care workers should be 'encouraged and not intimated' to get jab
This means it is thought over a quarter of care home staff are estimated to have not yet been given their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the county, despite being in the top of the priority lists in the NHS England jab rollout.
Although official numbers may differ, as care providers have their own systems in place to record whether or not staff have received the vaccine, meaning there are some staff who are vaccinated who have not recorded the result with their employer.
And UNISON, which represents care workers, said employees should be encouraged, not intimidated, into receiving a jab and added that those who are uncertain needed support.
Lancashire County Council says it has been making 'regular contact' with care home staff to offer specialists from public health and online webinars to increase the uptake of the vaccine in staff.
County Councillor Graham Gooch, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for adult services, said: "The NHS is encouraging all care home staff and all front line health and social care staff to take up their offer of a vaccination and the county council fully supports them with this work.
"We regularly stress the importance of vaccinating as many front-line staff as possible whenever we have a chance to talk to care home managers and their staff. This includes on our fortnightly provider webinars, where we often bring specialists from public health and the NHS to talk about the benefits of the vaccination programme for individuals, the workforce and the wider community.
"Our Infection Control Team and the Adult Social Care Contracts team make regular contact with care home providers to offer assistance with improving staff vaccination rates. In addition, we are working closely with NHS colleagues to run webinars for care home staff, which include question and answer sessions regarding the vaccination programme.
"We also contact homes where Covid-19 infection rates are causing concern or where the vaccine uptake is lower to encourage all staff to have the vaccine."
The NHS data shows 12,576 workers in care homes for older adults in Lancashire were eligible for a first dose of a vaccination up to March 7, but just 9,200 received it.
It means more than a quarter of staff, including agency workers, have not been recorded as having a jab.
And according to the county’s director of public health, Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire’s frontline care workforce should be “a role model for the rest of the population” by taking up the offer of a coronavirus vaccine.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), he said that more needed to be done to build “vaccine confidence” amongst those employed in caring roles, particularly younger age groups.
Staff members and residents in care homes for older adults are in the top four priority groups for the vaccination, 96 per cent of eligible residents in care homes have received their first dose of a vaccination.
Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone in those groups - which also included people aged 75 and over and those clinically extremely vulnerable - had been offered a first dose.
Since then, a growing number of care home providers have made it a requirement for new staff to have the Covid-19 vaccine.
But UNISON said such a "heavy-handed approach" is the opposite of what is needed to encourage workers to have the vaccine.
Gavin Edwards, the union's national officer for social care, said: "Everyone who can have a jab should, including social care staff, but some employers are intimidating their employees which leads to a lack of trust in the vaccine."
He added: "Staff who are hesitant need support, accurate information and the chance to talk about their concerns.
"Care employees work long shifts, antisocial hours and at different sites. Vaccinations need to be offered at a convenient time and place for workers."
Chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said healthcare staff had a "professional responsibility" to get vaccinated.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We have visited every eligible care home in England, offered vaccines to all staff, and are doing everything we can to ensure all those who can, take up the vital offer.
"All eligible staff can book using the national booking service.
“We continue to work closely with the care sector and local leaders in communities with lower take up to maximise vaccination numbers and save thousands of lives.”
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