Up to 8% of adult social care workers in England are not planning to take the Covid-19 vaccine, leading employers to seek legal advice over jabs.
Although the number of Covid cases has trebled in care homes in the past month, between 6% and 8% of workers in care homes are declining the vaccine, according to the National Care Association, which represents independent care homes.
GPs have been informed by NHS England that residents and staff at homes across the country should have been vaccinated by 24 January at the latest.
Figures from media agency PA suggest that 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.
However, according to Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, at least one in every 17 care workers, equating to 90,000 staff, may be rejecting immunisation.
Ahmed said the figures were worrying, although the proportion of staff declining to take the vaccine had fallen significantly since the roll-out began.
She added that some staff members were being persuaded by seeing colleagues safely receiving the jab.
“I think we started with between 15% and 18% of the workforce, we were being told, who were reluctant to have it, but I think that it’s dropped to about 8%.
“We are also hearing that some of them are based around reasons that are religious, or they’ve got conditions, or it’s a fear … Very few are conspiracy theory types, but there are [some] within the numbers that we’ve been told about.
“Even one [care worker turning down the vaccine] is more than we would want. We’ve asked for a legal opinion on it – we’re just waiting for that legal opinion to come through.”
One large UK care home group, which asked to remain anonymous, told PA that more than half of residents and 36.8% of staff had received at least one vaccine dose, as of 14 January.
However, they said 21% of staff and 2.7% of residents offered the vaccine had chosen not to take it up.
There is currently no regular data from the NHS or the government on how many residents and staff have been given the vaccine, nor how many have refused a jab so far.
NHS England has projected that for every 20 vaccinations in the care homes resident cohort, one death is preventable.