One in four Wigan care home staff not vaccinated, data shows
NHS England statistics compiled by the JPIMedia Data Unit also showed that, as of last week, just over one in 10 residents of care and nursing homes in the borough were unprotected from the novel coronavirus.
Health bosses in the borough said the majority of residents in care homes have been vaccinated and work is under way to engage with employees in the sector who have so far declined a jab.
They also pointed out some elderly residents were not able to have their first dose when health staff came to their care home originally and outlined the work being done to ensure those facilities were revisited.
The figures show there are 2,870 people working in care homes in Wigan.
Of those, 2,142 are eligible to be vaccinated and have received their first jab.
That means there are 728 staff, or 25 per cent of the total cohort, unvaccinated, although 72 employees are ineligible for the vaccine.
The figures cover the period up to March 7 and are updated every Thursday.
Among care home residents 1,632 of those who are eligible have received a first dose, out of the 1,826 people living in a residential or nursing facility.
That means 198 people, or 11 per cent of everyone living in such a setting, are unvaccinated against Covid-19. Of those, 28 are not eligible to receive a jab.
Outbreaks of Covid-19 in care homes and the vulnerability of elderly residents living in them has been a major concern throughout the pandemic.
Wigan Council’s most recent weekly coronavirus tracker, published on March 10, showed 13 per cent of all deaths involving Covid-19 in the borough have been in care home settings.
The JPIMedia Data Unit analysis of NHS England figures exclude people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 28 days and cannot therefore be vaccinated, but includes a small number of facilities which cannot be visited due to there being a current outbreak of the novel coronavirus there.
Staff members and residents in care homes for older adults are in the top four priority groups for the vaccination.
However, with everyone having been offered a first jab in these groups, the question of what to do when people refuse a vaccination for Covid-19 has become a hot topic.
There have been calls for mandatory vaccination or so-called “no jab, no job” rules to be employed, but trade union Unison said intimidating people into accepting was “heavy-handed” and likely to be counterproductive.
Instead it called for a process of engagement with staff who are worried to understand their fears and encouragement them to receive a jab.
Borough health bosses have also opted to encourage staff to receive the first dose and to work on tackling vaccine hesitancy.
Dr Tim Dalton, a loscal GP and chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “In partnership with our council, GP practice and hospital colleagues, we have made a big push over the last few months to vaccinate care home staff and residents, with many getting their first doses in January and vaccination continuing.
“By early February all 52 care homes in the borough had been visited with the overwhelming majority of residents vaccinated.
“However, the number of care home residents isn’t fixed, with people flowing in and out of care homes, either from their own home or from hospital, as they need it.
“GPs and nurses regularly revisit care homes to vaccinate new residents or those that couldn’t be vaccinated in the first instance for whatever reason, with many care homes visited during this last week.
“We are now beginning to give residents their second dose, as well as continuing to offer first vaccines to the small number who still need them.
“Care home staff were included in the original vaccination call out as part of health and social care frontline staff and continue to invited to come for vaccine.
“Every care home staff member has been offered a vaccine. We are working closely with our partners and care homes to encourage care home staff who haven’t yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, and I would personally recommend that they take up this opportunity to keep themselves, their residents and loved ones safe.
“Our collective work on building vaccine confidence is having a positive impact with more care home workers receiving the vaccine every week.
“Investment in care homes, such as the infection control grant and workforce capacity grant means that homes are also employing additional staff so we will continue to offer vaccinations to eligible social care staff for the foreseeable future.”
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