The new vaccine regulations are expected to cause a shortage of staff in the care home sector.
From 11 November, it will become mandatory for all staff working in care homes to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are exempt, in order to protect the residents and patients most at risk from the virus.
The government’s own predictions are that up to 40,000 of the more than half a million care workers in the country won’t be fully vaccinated by that date.
PJ Care employs 600 staff at three sites in Milton Keynes and Peterborough, providing specialist neurological care for more than 180 residents. The staff follow a strict protocol for PPE, hygiene, testing and monitoring. They have not had one positive result from any resident in over 4 months.
The group’s chairman Neil Russell stated that everyone should get vaccinated and encouraged his staff to do so. Some people will choose not to be vaccinated for various reasons.
” The industry is facing a severe shortage of skilled and experienced workers, particularly as flu season approaches.
” If we lose staff we have to reduce our capacity and hospitals could face bedblockages due to not being able discharge patients. “
Many care workers have criticized the method, calling it heavy-handed and, at worst, bullying or blackmail.
Barbara Korzeniowska is a trustee of a London care home.
“They don’t need to get vaccinated in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,” she said.
” There is no compulsion and it seems more unfair. Why is that?
” If they work for the NHS, they are not required to get vaccinated. The fact that they are not vaccinated will mean no one in England has to lose their job. “
The government believes it is responsible to take all measures to protect the vulnerable. It has now introduced this regulation after extensive consultation.
One resident at the Milton Keynes home believes it’s the best approach.
Darren Thomas is a resident who requires care due to spinal injuries. He says, “I believe it should be mandatory.
” I think they should take it regardless of their morality because they work with vulnerable individuals and could get infected. “
The head of housekeeping at the residence, Sophia Rodriguez and Leevan Hasdell, a nursing apprentice, know that they may lose their jobs if they refuse to get vaccinated. They are willing to accept the risk.
” I’m not against vaccination,” declares Ms Rodriguez.
” I’ve been vaccinated since childhood and know that they work.
” But this one, I’m not sure. This affects your DNA and your RNA, which make up my identity, who God made me, and how I was created. My body should be protected. I am a Christian. “
Mr Hasdell said: “For me, it’s religious reasons. Personal reasons.
” I believe people should be able to make that decision, but there’s not enough information at present. “
Their vaccinated coworkers agree that employees should be able to choose. The home’s acting registered manger, Natalie Maxwell says that while it is possible to have one or both vaccines, long-term, she believes it best for staff.
“But, I believe it should come down to individual choice and that there needs to be more research.
Grant Mugford agrees.
” “I think it shouldn’t be compulsory, but I believe it should encouraged,” he states.
“But I believe a lot is scaremongering and it’s putting pressure on people as well as the industry. “
Earlier this week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned care workers that the clock is ticking and that with the “grace period” ending on 11 November they need to book their vaccination appointments as soon as possible.
How many people choose to get vaccinated could determine the quality of care in England and how the NHS copes over the next months.