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Care home bosses demand staff get Covid jabs or risk losing their jobs amid fears over uptake

Care home bosses are demanding that staff have the Covid-19 vaccination – or risk losing their jobs.

Several carers have contacted The Mail on Sunday to claim that they have been threatened with the sack or a pay cut if they refuse to have the jab.

One young worker at an old people’s home in Manchester said she had ‘no choice’ and ‘no voice’ when making the decision.

‘I told them I was scared to have the jab but they didn’t listen to my worries,’ she told the MoS’s Medical Minefield podcast. ‘They said I had to have it within the month or find another place to work.’

A care home resident, 90, prepares to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine in Hamilton, western Scotland, on December 14 last year (file photo)

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, added: ‘They tried to make me feel guilty, telling me I could bring the virus into the home and people would die.’

Another carer at a residential home for disabled people near Liverpool claims she was threatened with financial penalties after expressing doubts about the vaccine’s efficacy.

‘We’ve all been told that if we don’t have it and we’re absent from work because of anything Covid-related, we won’t get our monthly salary,’ said the care worker. ‘I thought [the vaccine] had been rushed through, and hadn’t been trialled sufficiently.’

The claims emerged as the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) warned that the take-up rate among care home staff was still ‘far too low’. 

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Anthony Harnden, said just 66 per cent had received an inoculation despite overwhelming evidence that both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are safe.

‘If [care home staff] are to stop potentially transmitting to those vulnerable people who they look after and care for deeply, they need to take the immunisation up,’ he said. ‘The message needs to come across loud and clear.’

There are an estimated 680,000 residential care workers in England, suggesting more than 230,000 are yet to be vaccinated.

However, the National Care Association (NCA) said only around seven per cent of staff remained nervous or resistant to taking the vaccine. Its chairman, Nadra Ahmed, said: ‘The figure [getting the vaccine] is not as high as we’d like it, but it will depend on how many people have been able to access the vaccine.

A care home resident prepares to receive an injection of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at the Lady Forester Community nursing home in Shropshire (file photo)

A care home resident prepares to receive an injection of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at the Lady Forester Community nursing home in Shropshire (file photo)

‘We’ve got to remember that access was an issue at the beginning and we also know that we’ve got around 20 per cent who are either isolating or have had Covid and so they will be waiting to get the vaccine.

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‘If we assume the 66 per cent figure is right, then of course it is low and we would like it to be higher, but we’ve got to look behind that to see why it is where it is.’ 

Care home residents account for about a third of all deaths from the virus in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

Around 400,000 people live in homes, many of whom have spent much of the last year apart from their loved ones for fear of catching the virus.

Downing Street has said that ‘no jab, no job’ policies are ‘discriminatory’ and that vaccines should not be mandatory – a view echoed by Prof Harnden.

‘I would much prefer to be able to persuade by the power of argument than to force people or to make people lose their jobs because they didn’t take up the vaccine,’ he said. Some firms have, however, taken matters into their own hands. 

Barchester Healthcare, for example, has said it will not hire workers who refuse the vaccine and will encourage up take by linking vaccination to bonuses, promotions and enhanced sick pay. 

Several carers have contacted The Mail on Sunday to claim that they have been threatened with the sack or a pay cut if they refuse to have the jab (file photo)

Several carers have contacted The Mail on Sunday to claim that they have been threatened with the sack or a pay cut if they refuse to have the jab (file photo)

Other care firms are understood to be considering similar measures. But Britain’s largest union has accused care providers of using ‘punitive’ tactics to ensure their staff are vaccinated.

In a letter to Health Minister Helen Whately, Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The vaccination programme is the way out of this health crisis.

‘The more care workers who get a jab, the safer the sector will be.

‘But care employers who put punitive measures in place for staff, or make it a condition of work, are undermining trust and confidence in the vaccine.

‘They are also at odds with the sensible approach being taken by most employers and the NHS.

‘Companies would do much better to concentrate on informing staff about the benefits of the vaccination, rather than intimidating them.’


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