CCG blames ‘vaccine misinformation’ after third of Sheffield care home workers unvaccinated

Nearly a third of care home staff in Sheffield have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, in spite of the fact they have been offered the jab.

By Lloyd Bent
Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:17 am

NHS data shows 4,336 workers in care homes for older adults in Sheffield were eligible for a first dose of a vaccination up to March 7, but just 2,981 received it.

This means 31 per cent of staff, including agency workers, have not had their first dose – a number unions are saying could have been exacerbated by a ‘lack of trust’ brought on by staff feeling ‘intimidated’.

This comes in spite of the fact that, on January 29, Sheffield CCG announced that all residents and staff in Sheffield’s 83 care homes had been offered the vaccine.

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A Covid 19 max vaccination centre has opened at the Sheffield Arena. Picture Scott Merrylees

Staff members and residents in care homes for older adults are in the top four priority groups for the vaccination, so they were among the first to be offered their jab in the city.

A spokesperson for NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Whilst low uptake is a cause for concern, residents in all 83 care homes for elderly people in the city have received their first covid-19 vaccination which gives them high levels of protection from becoming seriously ill from covid-19.

“We’d encourage all care home workers to have their vaccine to protect themselves against covid and to further protect those that they care for (unless there is a medical reason which prevents them from being vaccinated).”

And while care home staff are being encouraged to get the jab if they have not already done so, unions have criticised the actions of some care homes which have made the jab compulsory, branding the move ‘heavy handed’ and ‘the opposite of what is needed’.

Sheffield nurses and healthcare workers have been involved in the battle against Covid - and now are delivering vaccines

UNISON, which represents care workers, said employees should be encouraged, not intimidated, into receiving a jab and added that those who are uncertain need support.

Gavin Edwards, the union's national officer for social care, said: "Everyone who can have a jab should, including social care staff, but some employers are intimidating their employees which leads to a lack of trust in the vaccine."

He added: "Staff who are hesitant need support, accurate information and the chance to talk about their concerns.

"Care employees work long shifts, antisocial hours and at different sites. Vaccinations need to be offered at a convenient time and place for workers."

Sheffield CCG added: “The reasons for low uptake can differ from one individual to the next, but we expect vaccine misinformation to be playing a role in vaccine hesitancy and refusal.

"We are working with the local authority to encourage more care home workers to have the vaccine and we’re also supporting national work to tackle the issue of misinformation which is circulating online.”

Across England, the uptake rate varies by region with the North East and Yorkshire having the lowest proportion of unvaccinated staff: 22 per cent.

By contrast, 40 per cent of care home staff in London have not had their first jab.

Nationally, that figure is 26 per cent.

In Sheffield, 2,518 residents in care homes for older people have received their first dose of a vaccination – equating to 92 per cent of eligible residents.

Across England, 94 per cent of care home residents have been vaccinated.

Care home workers are still eligible to book via the national booking service or by calling 119.