Almost a third of Yorkshire care home workers have not been fully vaccinated

Almost a third of staff working with elderly people at care homes in Yorkshire and the Humber have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Chief Pharmacist Richard Harrison with the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at Askham Bar park-and-ride in York

The latest NHS figures show 70 per cent of staff (32,384 people) working at older adult care homes in the region had received two doses of a vaccine by June 6 and 84.6 per cent (38,902 people) had received one.

In the region, Kirklees recorded the lowest vaccine uptake among care workers, as 60.4 per cent have been fully vaccinated, while York saw the highest (84.2 per cent).

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Care staff were first invited to have a jab in December 2020, when the roll out began, and the Government now plans to make it mandatory for all care workers to take two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless they have a medical exemption.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said it is “a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes” but trade unions and some care home providers claim it could prompt some workers to quit.

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group which represents care providers in North Yorkshire, said there are pregnant care workers who are reluctant to have a jab, while some people have fallen victim to vaccine misinformation and others have turned it down for “cultural and religious reasons”.

He believes the Government should remain focused on promoting the vaccine through targeted campaigns rather than forcing workers to take it, as that approach could lead to more people leaving the profession and legal challenges.

“I wanted the government to target those low uptake areas first and try a bit harder before they made it mandatory everywhere,” he said.

“It seems like a kick in the teeth to say, after all this, thanks but if you don’t want the vaccine, you’re out.”

Kirklees Council said it has worked closely with the NHS to make it "as easy as possible" for care staff home staff to get vaccinated, running various clinics and providing advice and guidance.

A council spokesman added: "We have shared information and advice with care homes to increase vaccine confidence and dispel any concerns staff may have about the safety of the vaccine.

"We are also utilising our community champions, work with GPs, carers count and supporting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to increase the vaccine uptake in Kirklees.

"Care home managers are encouraged to have individual, supportive discussions with staff who have expressed hesitancy with the vaccine to understand concerns, update risk assessments and update health assessment to identify any exemptions.

"We have also provided flexible appointments and more convenient clinic times for staff on the frontline, particularly during evenings and weekends."

Leeds also has a relatively low uptake among care workers, as just 62 per cent have received two jabs.

A spokeswoman for Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group said: "We’re still in the process of vaccinating care workers with second doses and expect the figure to increase.

"The NHS in Leeds is working closely with Leeds City Council and care home managers to ensure staff have their first and second dose, particularly in light of the latest evidence that shows how important the second dose is for protection against the Delta variant.

“Getting the vaccine is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves and others."