England’s chief medical officer has said care home workers have a “professional responsibility” to get a Covid-19 vaccine after he was questioned about the lower uptake of jabs among staff in some parts of the country.
During a Downing Street press conference on Monday, Prof Chris Whitty was asked if he was “shocked” by figures that showed that the area of Lambeth in south London had seen just 45% of staff working in older adult care homes receive a first dose.
According NHS England data up to March 21, Lambeth has the lowest uptake in this group of people among upper tier local authorities.
Mr Whitty said that “the great majority of care home staff nationally” had received a vaccine, alongside “an even greater proportion of health care staff”.
Addressing people who had not taken a jab he emphasised three points, firstly that a vaccine “will protect you and your family”.
“There’s now evidence that if you have a vaccine as a health and social care worker, it’s likely that that is going to provide protection to your family,” he added.
“Second thing is that there is, unfortunately, some misinformation about vaccines and the key thing is to go to reliable sources.
“If you’re hearing stories about vaccines, and you’re concerned about them, go to reliable sources, talk to medical staff who can actually lay out the facts because compared to the risk of Covid, the risk of the vaccines is much smaller.”
Prof Whitty added: “The third point specifically on care staff, certainly, when we’re talking about medical or nursing staff, I’ve said before and I will say very unambiguously, I do consider people who are looking after other people who are very vulnerable, do have a professional responsibility to get vaccinated and to do other things that help protect the people who they’re looking after.
“It’s not just an issue about vaccination, this is across the board. Vaccination is one of those issues.
“So it is important that people view it both for themselves, for their families, but also take their professional responsibilities seriously.”
According to the NHS England data published on Thursday, nearly a quarter of staff at older adult care homes in England have not been given a first dose of coronavirus vaccine.
Official figures showed that 76.6% of eligible staff at older adult care homes had been given a first jab by March 21.
In Scotland and Wales, where there are fewer care home residents and staff to vaccinate, the uptake of vaccines among workers has been higher.
According to Public Health Wales’s latest vaccination data, 88.3% of older adult care home workers have received a first dose.
The figure appeared under the health body’s daily summary webpage on vaccinations on Monday.
Meanwhile, data from Public Health Scotland, last updated on Monday, shows 100% of staff working in care homes have had an initial jab.