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Hundreds of Surrey Care Home Workers Miss Covid Vaccination Deadline

Published on: 17 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 17 Nov, 2021

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Hundreds of Surrey care home workers are at risk of losing their jobs because they have missed the government deadline to get double jabbed from coronavirus.

The government made it compulsory for all adult care home staff to be fully vaccinated against covid, except for those who are medically exempt.

Last Thursday (November 11), was the deadline in England to have their second vaccine or provide proof of medical exemption, but four days before the deadline, 1,476 care home workers in Surrey (11 per cent) were not fully vaccinated.

This is higher than the average in England at the time, 9.8 per cent.

Rebecca Pritchard, chief executive of Surrey Care Association (SCA) which represents more than 220 social care providers in the county, said: “The mandate will push some people out and therefore will be a real challenge.”

The aim of the mandate is to protect vulnerable elderly residents, but amid an already “acute recruitment and retention crisis”, it could not come at a worse time according to SCA.

Their members reported 899 unfilled jobs last month – and that is just the ones who responded to the survey, who employ a total of 5,359 people.

Ruth Hutchinson

Surrey County Council’s public health director Ruth Hutchinson said: “Although we have reassuringly high numbers of care home residents in Surrey vaccinated, there are still some people living in care homes who either can’t be vaccinated or won’t be completely protected by the vaccine.

“With the prevalence of flu and Covid-19 rising this winter it’s so important that we protect more vulnerable people, who might have a combination of risk factors – such as age or underlying health conditions – because for them, these illnesses could be life-threatening.

“Research shows that the vaccine not only reduces the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from Covid, it also reduces the risk of catching or spreading it. That means that getting the Covid vaccine is the best way to protect everyone working in care homes, and the vulnerable people they care for.”

Ms Pritchard said for some workers being ordered to have a vaccine felt like “the last straw” when they were already burnt out and being asked to work additional hours and paid not to take holiday.

She said: “I know some people have moved.

“Ironically they went to work in the NHS or supported living and are going to have to go through the consultation process again.”

Some workers moved out of care homes into personal care in the home as a result of the mandate, only to hear this month that from April compulsory vaccines will be extended to all health and social care workers in England who have face-to-face contact with patients.

Ms Pritchard said: “The council has done a huge amount of work, 1-2-1s sitting down with people who are worried.

If someone isn’t sure, if you are told ‘You’ve got to do this’, psychologically it pushes people into the defensive and it can become more entrenched.

“For some it just makes them draw the line in the sand.”

Older adult care homes in Surrey employ 13,433 staff. Of these, 11,957 (89 per cent) were reported to be double jabbed on November 7.

As of this date 822 workers in Surrey (6.1 per cent) had not even had one dose, compared with 5.3 per cent in England.

Care home workers have the option of being deployed away from a frontline role or taking unpaid leave until they can be fully vaccinated.

According to law, anyone unable to provide proof of vaccination or exemption can be dismissed or moved to an alternative role for which vaccination is not required. This is enforced by the Care Quality Commission.

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Responses to Hundreds of Surrey Care Home Workers Miss Covid Vaccination Deadline

  1. Charles A King Reply

    November 18, 2021 at 10:25 am

    I am a 90-year-old housebound man living in Guildford. I am classified as a vulnerable person. I received my first letter from the NHS on September 27 and have subsequently received two more letters, all urging me to get my booster.

    I have been trying ever since to get my jab at home, like my second jab, because I am unable to walk any distance due to my medical condition.

    Procare is contracted by my surgery to carry out the vaccinations for the housebound so the surgery is unable to tell me anything each time I have managed to contact them. The latest message from them is that it is “all in hand”.

    I have been trying now for seven weeks. What is wrong?

  2. Susan Fox Reply

    November 18, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I can understand why some have not been vaccinated this time compared with the initial rollout in Guildford when it was so easy and efficient.

    It is almost impossible for anyone without a car to get an accessible slot, even for those due a booster. 119 offered this week Church Hall, Woking, Dorking or Epsom; not even Artington, at a time when I guess most care workers are at work.

    I do not understand why care workers are not treated as NHS staff, after all, they both come under the same department. A possible solution would be for pharmacies, who do a great job with flu’ jabs, being utilised.

    Editor’s note: Boots and Superdrug in Guildford High Street are both administering Covid boosters by appointment.

    • Sara Tokunaga Reply

      November 18, 2021 at 10:06 pm

      Direct Pharmacy in Madrid Road is also offering booster jabs. You can book through the NHS website, not Procare.

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    November 20, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    What makes a care worker or someone who works in a hospital, refuse to have a vaccination which might save their own lives and probably save the lives of people they work for?

    As children we all had vaccinations to prevent us from dying from various diseases. We were not asked. Our parents thought such jabs might protect us.

    Doctors are obliged to have other vaccinations before they can work in hospitals. They understand why and are in agreement. To my mind, the refuseniks are both foolish and selfish. Many other countries have already insisted that health workers must be vaccinated. It is perfectly logical.

    • John Perkins Reply

      November 21, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      I disagree. It’s arguable that “refuseniks” are foolish, though it remains unproven. However, the accusation that they are selfish flies in the face of evidence that vaccination does not prevent transmission.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    November 21, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Vaccination may not prevent transmission, though few double jabbed people are likely to die if they get Covid. The reason they are still getting it is usually the waning efficacy of the jabs after six months. Reducing the length of time between the second dose and boosters may help to lower the number of new infections.

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