Although Covid vaccines have been proven to work, nearly a quarter of NHS staff in some parts of England are refusing to be inoculated. More than 200,000 health and care workers are refusing the jab, putting patients at risk.
Official numbers show that 91 percent of front line medical staff across the country have been vaccinated. However, that number drastically drops to 76 percent in London. In total, more than 41,000 front line healthcare workers in the capital, which include medics, hospital porters, cleaners and laboratory staff, haven’t received the vaccine.
Less than 73 percent of care home staff in England have received the vaccine. Data shows that approximately 106,000 front line healthcare staff and more than 121,000 care workers have yet to take up the vaccine.
Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said NHS and care home staff had a “professional responsibility” to get vaccinated, while the Queen said those who refuse the vaccine “ought to think about other people rather than themselves”.
There are concerns that vaccination hesitancy, particularly in deprived areas, could create “pockets of infection” which would allow the virus to continue spreading and prolong the lockdown.
Among healthcare workers, low levels of uptake are seen especially in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Unlike a small region in Spain, which made vaccines mandatory, ministers are reluctant to do so. There are worries that such an aggressive tactic could make those with doubts about the covid vaccines more fearful.
An NHS spokesman said: “While it is for Government and Parliament to decide which groups of people are required to get the vaccine, the NHS national medical director and chief nurse agree with Chris Whitty, with the chair of the BMA and other professional leaders that NHS staff have a duty to be vaccinated unless they have a valid clinical reason not to do so. Any member of NHS staff who has not yet taken up the offer should speak to their employer about getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others.”
Martin Machray, the joint chief nurse for the NHS in London, told The Sunday Times that health and care employers were organising staff information events and trying to make it as easy and convenient as possible for workers to get their vaccines.
“Vaccinating staff is critical to the safe running of health and care settings, so we are working with trusts to ensure that all staff feel confident in taking the vaccine,” Mr Machray said.