As many as one in five UK care home workers could be declining the Covid vaccine when offered, according to the Press Association.
While the majority of care home staff and patients are accepting the jab, and the Government's planned rollout of the vaccination scheme is going relatively well, there are concerns that some people are refusing to be vaccinated.
There is not yet any national data from the NHS or government showing how many care home residents and staff have had, or refused, the vaccine. However, figures seen by the Press Association from a number of care providers show that between five and 21 per cent of staff offered a vaccine have declined it.
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How many staff are taking the vaccine?
A large UK care home group (which asked to remain anonymous) shared data showing that more than half of all residents and 36.8 per cent of staff have had at least one dose of Covid vaccine, as of 14 January.
However, they also showed that 21 per cent of staff and 2.7 per cent of residents who had been offered the vaccine chose not to take it.
While the Barchester Healthcare group, which runs more than 200 homes in the UK, has had 47 per cent of residents and 37 per cent of staff vaccinated with at least one dose by 14 January, around five per cent of staff have declined the jab.
In the 46 homes run by Sunrise Senior Living and Gracewell Healthcare, around eight per cent of staff offered the vaccine refused it, and one per cent of residents did the same.
‘Our most important tool’
Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Martin Marshall, said: “Frontline health and care staff are quite rightly considered a priority for vaccination because they are at high risk of contracting the virus.
“Getting vaccinated will help protect themselves, their colleagues and their patients.
“The Covid-19 vaccine is our most important tool in protecting people from the virus, and helping to get life back to normal.”
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.”
An NHS spokeswoman said: “Thanks to the dedication of NHS staff, tens of thousands of care home residents and staff have already been vaccinated with the NHS working hard to vaccinate as many people from these top priority groups as quickly as possible.”
Minister for care Helen Whately said: “We are immensely grateful for the unwavering compassion of those working in care homes, caring for older adults who are most vulnerable to Covid-19, who are rightly being offered vaccines now.
“We have provided over a billion pounds of additional funding to support social care during this pandemic - as well as free PPE, regular testing and prioritising the vaccination rollout to care home residents and staff.
“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and we encourage those who have been offered a vaccination to book their appointment as soon as possible.”