Care leaders have expressed fears that ‘fake news’ could lead to up to 20% of staff refusing a COVID vaccination.
The comments came as the UK prepared for the first roll-out of the Pfizer approved vaccines across the country tomorrow.
Martin Barrett, Managing Director of Nellsar, a 13-home care group, and a board member of the Surrey Care Association, commented: “The vaccine is a hugely important step on the path back to ‘normality’ within care settings. The fact it’s now on the horizon and about to be rolled out should be a cause of celebration for our sector – however, initial feedback from some of our members about their staff is concerning. Some have estimated that as many as 20% of staff have reservations about it, and if that translates into a refusal to take it then it could lead to a high proportion of staff lacking immunisation – with all of the associated risks that brings.”
He expanded: “We’re seeing so many, frankly ridiculous, conspiracy theories appearing online – ranging from 5G masts to Bill Gates, the inclusion of male foetuses and more. It would be laughable if the consequences of this nonsense weren’t so serious. We’d advise anyone with concerns to turn to reputable sources to find out the facts, be that official medical sites or reputable news providers. Of course, we understand people wanting to reassure themselves that all of the appropriate trials and tests have been undertaken, but we just urge people to be sensible in their approach to finding out the relevant information, and not simply believe what they see on social media.”
His concerns were supported by David Holmes, former Chair of the Surrey Care Association and Chairman of Peak15, an organisation that supports adults with learning difficulties, who said: “Care sector staff have been at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, and the vast majority are supportive of the vaccine’s introduction. But there are still many who are at risk of having their head turned by erroneous information coming from spurious sources.”
David added: “We’re very much on the verge of turning the tide against coronavirus once and for all. We urge the Government, local authorities and providers to come together to ensure that our staff make positive and informed decisions about vaccination – it really is the very best way to keep the people we support and our colleagues safe, and return to normal life.”