Tens of thousands nurses have yet to receive a Covid jab, despite the Government aiming to have vaccinated all frontline health staff by next week. Some 15 per cent of nurses across the country have yet to be given a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine, a poll by the Royal College of Nurses found.
And the number of nurses working in care homes and in the community without the vaccine is greater still, with 44 per cent of agency staff and 27 per cent of temporary staff yet to receive a jab.
The survey of 24,370 nurses comes days before the Government’s February 15 target for vaccinating 15million Britons in the top four priority groups, which includes all health and social care staff and over-70s.
RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair told The Guardian that the findings were 'extremely worrying'.
She said: 'Our survey suggests many thousands of nursing staff have yet to be given their Covid vaccine less than a week before the government’s deadline. With only days to go, every effort must be made to reach all nursing staff to ensure their protection and that of the patients and vulnerable people they care for.'
The survey found just seven per sent of all nurses have received two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
Scaling the 15 per cent of nurses who have yet to have their first dose to the RCN's 450,000-strong membership would suggest around 75,000 nurses have yet to be vaccinated. Of that 15 per cent, just under half (45 per cent) of staff had been offered a vaccine but were either waiting for an appointment or had chosen not to take one.
In total, three per cent of all nurses surveyed were hesitant to accept the vaccine - which would account for some 13,500 staff if scaled up to the RCN's membership.
Dame Donna Kinnair said: 'Temporary and agency staff work in our communities and hospitals, with patients and the public – and they face the same level of risk as their NHS colleagues.
'Every effort must be made to reach all nursing staff to ensure the protection of patients and vulnerable people. The JCVI guidance is clear that the Covid-19 vaccine should be available to all health and social care staff. This is irrespective of where they are employed, including agency staff and those employed in the independent sectors. Employers are ultimately responsible for ensuring all their staff are able to access the vaccine. But the Government must intervene now, as our members have proven this is clearly not the case.'
Of the 1,624 nurses who had been offered a jab, 33 per cent claimed they had an appointment booked and planned to attend.
Some 12 per cent were unable to attend an appointment and four per cent said there were not enough vaccines available when they turned up for a jab. However, 38 per cent said they did not want to take the jab at the moment or were undecided, while 12 per cent said they did not want to take it at all.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: 'It is really important that as many staff as possible take the opportunity to get vaccinated to help protect colleagues and patients.' The Department for Health and Social Care said that employers are responsible for ensuring all their staff are able to access the vaccine.
The DHSC said: 'We are following advice from the independent JCVI to first vaccinate people deemed most at risk of coronavirus, along with our heroic health and social care staff on the frontline.
'This includes temporary, agency and voluntary workers who are at an increased risk of contracting or transmitting the virus to other people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, as well as to other staff in a healthcare environment.
'The NHS is working at pace to vaccinate these groups and we are on track to offer a vaccination to everyone in these first four priority groups by mid-February.'
By Joe Davies, Mailonline
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