Care workers who have not had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine risk losing their jobs.
The government has said that all care workers should be double-jabbed by November 11, or they risk being banned from care homes in England.
According to official figures, 90.4% of care home workers have had their first dose and 82.2% of care home staff are fully vaccinated.
However, trade union organisation Unison has warned that the policy may lead to understaffing, and ‘thousands’ of vulnerable people in care homes losing out on the support they need.
According to job search website Carehome.co.uk, there are already record numbers of vacancies in the care sector.
There are concerns that this policy, which some are calling ‘no jab, no job’ could make things even worse.
Linda*, a Birmingham-based care worker who is hesitant about taking the Covid vaccine spoke anonymously to Metro.co.uk
‘I’m not an anti-vaxxer, nor am I swayed by their views,’ she explains.
‘I am pro-choice and I feel that everyone should be able to decide whether they get vaccinated or not – without the threat of losing their job.’
She says she is happy to continue taking regular Covid tests, which she already does twice a week.
When she caught Covid in January 2020, she self-isolated for ten days.
Linda says she feels that the strict policy is a ‘kick in the teeth’ that undermines the hard work of carers like herself, who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.
‘I’ve never felt so unappreciated,’ she explains. ‘Don’t get me wrong, care staff constantly feel undervalued.
‘But I’m currently witnessing colleagues who are so distressed at the prospect of losing their jobs.’
She tells us that standards have slipped since she started working in the care sector, with high staff turnover and a lower quality of training.
Linda believes that companies like the ones she works for should prioritise staff autonomy – and she resents the emails she receives from head office about the importance of vaccination.
‘I am so disappointed that the big company I work for did not try to make a stand,’ says Linda.
‘It is a total contradiction to every value they’ve ever stated that they uphold.’
Linda is also concerned because some of her family members noted changes to their periods after taking the vaccine. Scientists have reassured people about this, but it continues to concern many.
Covid-19 and periods
Dr Victoria Male is a leading immunologist who specialises in fertility.
She has researched the link between changes to periods and the Covid-19 vaccine.
She says the body’s immune response is likely to be the cause, rather than the vaccine itself.
However, she said further research should be done to put people at ease.
It’s important to know that most people who report changes to their periods after the vaccine find that things return to normal during their next cycle.
You can read more for yourself in the British Medical Journal report
It’s a tricky issue to solve, because carers in care homes look after some of the most vulnerable people in our society, from the elderly to people with serious mental health issues.
These people may be frail or have long-term medical problems.
This is why medical experts such as Professor Azeem Majid think it’s essential that carers take the vaccine.
‘Their clients are at very high risk of a serious illness that could led to hospitalisation or death if they contract Covid,’ he tells us.
‘The vaccine will protect them and their clients, reducing the risk of serious illness for both groups, and reducing pressures on the NHS.’
Official figures show that those who have had two doses of the vaccine are much less likely to die with Covid, than people who have had one vaccine dose, or no vaccine doses at all.
Between January and July 2021, more than 51,000 people died from Covid. However, only 256 of them had taken two vaccine doses.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Over 90% of care home staff have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the 11 November deadline and we encourage even more staff to get vaccinated to protect their colleagues and those they care for.
‘Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system. This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.
‘Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes.’
*Name has been changed to protect anonymity
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