A third of frontline social care staff have not had the COVID-19 vaccine, Matt Hancock has said.
The news follows the government’s announcement that everyone in the top four priority groups has been offered a jab, with 15 million people getting a first dose.
The Health and Social Care Secretary told BBC Breakfast that the vaccine take-up was “around two-thirds” among social care staff and “around four-fifths” for NHS staff.
In a bid to encourage more social care staff to have the jab, he added: “It is the right thing to do.
“It is very important that you come forward and take up this vaccine. It’s important for you, it’s important for your patients and of course it’s important for the whole of society.”
A recent report from United Kingdom Homecare Association found “clear evidence of strong willingness” on the part of most home care workers to be vaccinated.
However, it warned that there is “substantial variation” in vaccination rates within and between local authority areas.
UKHCA chief executive Dr Jane Townson said that while some local areas vaccinated members of the workforce even before the official Standard Operating Procedure was published, a proportion of providers had still not heard anything from their local council (data accurate on February 3).
The study also found that live-in care services face additional challenges to obtain vaccinations for staff because care workers are typically working with clients in a different local authority area from where their employers’ office is based.
A separate survey conducted by the National Care Forum revealed that “large gaps” remained in the majority of services between the number of staff vaccinated and today’s government target of 100%.
The survey, covering the period 1-31 January, found that 41% of care home staff still had to be vaccinated, with the shortfall even larger in extra care housing and supported living services (48%), home care services (55%) and community based services (60%).
In a quick snapshot follow-up survey to check the position as of February 8, data revealed that the biggest gaps appear to be in home care services, where 38% of those responding still had less than 40% of their staff vaccinated.
The National Booking System is now open for home care workers and other frontline social care staff who haven’t yet had their COVID-19 vaccinations.
UKHCA policy director Colin Angel described this as a “major development” for social care workers who haven’t yet been able to be booked into their vaccination appointments.