Care home vaccines 'shouldn't be mandatory' says Dr Amir
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Care home staff are expected to be given 16 weeks to have the Covid vaccine or face losing their job. But care organisations have warned compulsory vaccinations could cause significant difficulties in a sector that already struggles to recruit enough people. Dr Amir echoes this.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he explained: “I’ve been responsible for vaccinating the residents and staff in the care homes that our practice looks after, and we’ve got five in total.
“And I’ve had no problem vaccinating the staff – they’ve all come forward.
“Some of them have been hesitant and asked me questions about it and I’ve talked through their concerns, and in the end all of them had gone on to have the vaccine.”
He continued: “I personally don’t think vaccines should be made mandatory, I think it should be done through education, listening to concerns, making sure people have the right information so they can make an informed choice.
“Trying to challenge the misinformation that’s out there, and that’s usually what’s stopping the minority of care home staff not having the vaccine.
“It’s important to say the vast majority have had the vaccine. And I’ve also worked in care homes, when I was 16, 17, 18 at school and through my medical school career. In the summer holidays I worked in care homes, as a carer – it’s hard, it’s really hard.
“It’s a tough job, it involves a lot of intimate care, a lot of things people might not be able to do, and there isn’t a queue of people waiting to take these jobs.
“Say if we make vaccines mandatory that might drive people out of these jobs and it will leave a big hole in that sector…it will have an impact on the NHS as well.”
Dr Amir said if he owned a care home, he wouldn’t take on any new staff who hadn’t had the vaccine, but he would be very mindful.
He added: “Everyone will know this – if they do let go of a good member of staff, they will not get that space filled by another good member of staff.”
This decision by the government is believed to come from considerable concerns about low take-up of the vaccine in some areas, including London.
A Whitehall source told the BBC: “These moves would save lives and there is precedent with the Hepatitis B vaccine guidance for doctors.”
Workers who can prove they are medically exempt from getting the vaccine won’t be affected.
The move also follows a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care, launched in April, after the government said it had met its target of offering all frontline care workers a first dose of a vaccine.
It said 47 percent of English care homes for older people had more than a fifth of staff yet to take up the vaccine, despite staff at all eligible care homes being offered vaccines, with the vast majority of homes having had repeat visits by vaccine teams.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the government’s announcement of its decision on mandatory vaccination for care home staff was “very imminent”.
She added: “We need to make sure we get the balance right but I’m sure people appreciate that protecting lives is the absolute priority.”
More than 30 million people in the UK are now fully vaccinated against Covid.
A total of 30,209,707 people have had both doses.
And 41,831,056 have received the first jab.
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