South Tyneside among best in country for vaccine uptake among care home staff
Care homes in South Tyneside have among the highest levels of staff vaccinated against covid in the country, figures have shown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed this week that care home staff in England will be required to have coronavirus vaccinations “to protect residents,” and making jabs compulsory for people in the NHS is also being considered.
Concerns have been voiced around the impact the move could have on already-stretched staffing levels.
But South Tyneside looks among the best-prepared in the country, with figures showing 89.5% of eligible staff in the borough’s care homes have had at least one dose, meaning it ranks eighth in England.
Blackpool is the highest at 93.7%, and Hackney the worst with 66.7%.
The figures have been published by NHS England and cover vaccinations up to June 6.
Matt Brown, executive director of operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "Our vaccine teams moved quickly to ensure care home staff and residents are as safe as possible, and there is no doubt that this has saved many lives locally. We owe a big thanks to vaccinators across the NHS, South Tyneside Council and the care homes who have worked so hard to make this a success.
"With the Delta variant now spreading in our region, it's more important than ever for all of us to have the second jab to stop the spread and be as safe as we can be."
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has previously said doctors and care workers have a “professional responsibility” to protect their patients.
From October, subject to parliamentary approval and a 16-week grace period, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
The requirement will also apply to people coming into care homes to do other work, such as tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians, and inspectors.
There will be exceptions for family and friends visiting care homes, under 18s, emergency services and people undertaking urgent maintenance work, the department said.
The new rules follow what the department described as an extensive consultation with the social care sector, staff, residents and their families, which garnered more than 13,500 responses.
They come amid concerns that some parts of the country, such as London, have particularly low uptake of vaccines for care home staff.
NHS figures to June 6 show overall that 84% of staff in older adult care homes in England have had one dose of vaccine, and almost 69% have had both jabs.
Care home operators have voiced concerns over the new rules on vaccines for care home workers.
The GMB union has claimed more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs because of it.
Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director for Covid-19 at Public Health England, said there are “pros and cons to any debate on mandatory vaccination”, and told the Science and Technology Committee ahead of the announcement that she would “remain a little bit concerned that we will have shortages of care staff once the mandate has come in”.