Published: 18:42, 20 September 2021
| Updated: 18:45, 20 September 2021
More than 1,000 care workers in Kent have yet to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to official figures.
The deadline for care workers to have at least one jab passed last week under the government’s drive to ensure the risk of transmitting the virus is minimised.
Care staff risk losing their jobs if they are not fully vaccinated by November 11 under what has been dubbed the “no jab, no job” policy
Unions and care home owners have warned that the policy risks an exodus of staff and a recruitment crisis in the sector.
While the numbers seem high, they are coming down week-by-week, albeit slowly.
According to figures from NHS England, 13,767 employees working in Kent care homes for adults were eligible for the first jab in the week beginning September 13.
Of these, 12,689 - the equivalent of 92.2% - had at least one dose of the vaccine, leaving 1,078 who had not - down by 130 the previous week.
Those who are not vaccinated are at risk of losing their jobs under tough rules being introduced in November. Unless they have the jab, they will not be able to work.
Nadra Ahmed of the Medway based National Care Association said: “Sadly, I think this is going to be a very challenging winter, even bleaker than last year because of the workforce issues we are facing. We have got so many vacancies because people did not want to be vaccinated and we simply do not have people coming forward to join the social care sector.
“We know care providers are pretty much on their knees at this time, trying to make sure that they can deliver safe care. This pandemic is far from over and those of us who work in the care sector have seen no major changes that would support us.”
When it came to residents in care homes, 9,457 have had the first dose of the vaccine according to figures from NHS England, the equivalent of 96.8% compared to a national average of 97.1%.
The government estimates that about 7% of the 570,000 people employed in English care homes will refuse the vaccine. That represents some 40,000 staff who will no longer be able to work in them and care for the elderly.
Unions representing staff in care homes have criticized the policy of forcing front-line staff to have the jab.
In response to the concerns that carers could walk away from their jobs, the Department of Health has now issued guidance that carers can self-certify that they have a medical exemption which avoids the need to have the jab.