High vaccine hesitancy in NHS London and UK home care staff

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Almost a quarter of National Health Service staff in London are refusing vaccination and among UK home care staff the system the picture is even worse.

Almost a quarter of National Health Service (NHS) staff in some parts of the UK are refusing COVID jabs, with official statistics showing more than 200,000 health and care workers putting patients at risk. The Daily Telegraph reports that NHS figures show that 91% of front-line healthcare staff across the country have taken up the offer of a vaccine, but that dips to 76% in London – the worst refusal rate. In total, more than 41,000 front line healthcare workers in the capital, including medics, hospital porters, cleaners and laboratory staff, have not had the jab.

The report says the national picture among care home staff is even worse, with uptake of less than 73%. The statistics show that around 106,000 front line healthcare staff and more than 121,000 care workers have yet to take up the vaccine.

The Telegraph quotes Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, as saying that the NHS and care home staff had a “professional responsibility” to get vaccinated, while the Queen said those who refuse the vaccine “ought to think about other people rather than themselves”.

The report says scientists and ministers are concerned that vaccination hesitancy, particularly in deprived areas, could create “pockets of infection” which continue to fuel transmission and slow down the efforts to ease lockdown. There is particular concern about low levels of uptake among those from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, including healthcare workers.

But, The Telegraph says, ministers are reluctant to make vaccination mandatory amid worries that the move could make those with doubts about the jabs more fearful.

To address concerns and tackle misinformation, NHS London is tailoring materials for specific groups, with information videos translated into some of the most commonly spoken languages in London. “Vaccinating staff is critical to the safe running of health and care settings, so we are working with trusts to ensure that all staff feel confident in taking the vaccine,” Martin Machray, the joint chief nurse for the NHS in London said.

 

The uptake for the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, rolled out to health workers in South Africa, has remained low at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha. Daily Maverick notes that this is according to the Eastern Cape Health Department spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo who said that said health workers were reluctant to be inoculated because of many myths circulating in the community with regard to vaccinations.

These include that the vaccination contains a microchip; that you do not need it if you have already contracted COVID-19; that it would alter your DNA and that you will test positive for the coronavirus if you have the vaccine.

The province received 6,000 doses of the vaccine on 16 February as the rollout of the vaccine under the Sisonke protocol got underway and at the weekend that they had vaccinated 3,041 health workers by 24 February.

Sivuyile Mange, of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), said they were seeing more interest in the vaccine in Mthatha this week, after spending the previous week providing information to health workers. “There was a lack of information and there are a lot of conspiracy theories,” he said. “We also had issues with the electronic vaccine data registration system. People don’t always have network access and data. Many do not have smartphones.

“But we have started registering nurses at the vaccination centre this week. I am positive that things will improve this week,” he said.

Full report in The Daily Telegraph (Restricted access)

 

Full Daily Maverick report (Open access)

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