Health and care workers encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine and “lead by example”
The country’s leading health and social care professionals have joined forces to urge their frontline colleagues to get the vital first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over the coming weeks.
A letter being circulated to all local NHS employers, councils and social care providers, sent on 27th of January, calls on frontline workers who are eligible for the vaccine to do their “collective duty” and “lead by example” by taking up the protection.
In addition to frontline NHS staff, those eligible include people who work directly with others who might be vulnerable, such as personal assistants and carers, occupational therapists (OTs) and rehab workers, and counsellors and mental health workers. Eligible people also include those frontline staff members working in contracted services, such as NHS Wheelchair Services providers.
The letter is signed by the country’s top nurse, social care nurse, midwife, GP, pharmacist, allied health professional, healthcare scientist and dentist, along with the NHS National Medical Director and Chief People Officer.
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) says it is working hard to offer all eligible staff – estimated at around four million – their first dose by the middle of February, as part of the ambition to protect millions of people in the top four priority groups set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The first two priority groups are care home residents and staff, and over-80s and frontline health and care workers. From 18th of January, the next two priority groups – over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable people – also began receiving invitations for COVID-19 jabs.
“Ensuring our fantastic staff are kept safe is an extremely high priority for us, but in addition to that, by getting the vaccine you can protect yourself from the virus so you can continue to be there for your family, friends, and those you care for,” the letter reads.
NHSEI says that for both vaccines, the first dose delivers the vast majority of the protection gained two weeks after it is administered, significantly reducing the chances of staff becoming ill if they come into contact with the virus.
All staff will receive their second dose within 12 weeks, in line with guidance from the JCVI and the four UK Chief Medical Officers, designed to protect people as quickly as possible and save more lives.
Eligible staff are being invited for their vaccination either where they work, at a local hospital hub, a vaccination centre or through a local GP-led service.
Non-NHS employers, such as local authorities and home care providers, are working together with local vaccination teams to identify eligible workers and arrange for them to be vaccinated.