Nearly a quarter of staff at older adult care homes in England have not been given a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, new figures show.
The latest data from NHS England, published on Thursday, shows that 76.6% of eligible staff at older adult care homes had been given a first jab by March 21.
It is the fifth consecutive week that the proportion of staff given a first dose has been around 75%, going back to 71.5% by February 21.
This compares to 93.7% of eligible older adult care home residents receiving a first dose of vaccine by March 21.
Residents and staff are classed as eligible for the vaccine if they have not had Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.
The latest figures come just days after the Government confirmed it is considering the possibility of making vaccination a legal requirement for healthcare staff.
The Telegraph reported details of a leaked paper submitted to the “Covid O” sub-committee of Cabinet, which said the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary had agreed to the proposal.
But Matt Hancock has insisted “no final decision” has yet been taken.
Mr Hancock had previously told LBC that “many” care homes had asked for this to happen, adding: “There’s a legal change that’s required and, as you can see, I’m open to that, but no final decision has been taken.”
The plans have emerged amid concerns of low uptake of staff in care homes looking after those who are among the most vulnerable to the virus.
But it would prove controversial, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman previously accepting it would be “discriminatory” to force people to be vaccinated.
The National Care Forum, Independent Care Group, Four Seasons Health Care, Unison and the GMB union have all expressed concern over compulsory vaccination.
But Pete Calveley, chief executive of Barchester Healthcare which runs more than 200 homes and seven hospitals, called for vaccination to be made mandatory for healthcare staff, describing it as a “professional duty”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that it is too risky to allow unvaccinated staff to potentially bring coronavirus into its facilities.
Since January, Barchester Healthcare has enforced a policy that no new member of staff will be recruited unless they have had the vaccination or are prepared to get one.
The latest NHS England figures also suggest that an estimated 98.3% of frontline NHS trust staff in England had been given at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by March 21.
All frontline health and social care workers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, with care home residents and their carers at the top of the priority list.
The figures also show that 67% of social care staff in England working in independent Care Quality Commission-registered younger adult care homes and domiciliary care providers have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
For social care staff working in other settings in England, including non-registered providers, the figure is 66.4%.
Both estimates are for first doses given up to March 21.