'Nervousness' over Covid-19 vaccine among L&D staff - while just 53% of Luton care home workers accept jab

"Hesitancy" over the Covid-19 jab in Luton has meant not enough care home workers or hospital staff have been vaccinated, a meeting heard.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 1:42 pm
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 2:02 pm

The chairman of Luton Borough Council's health and social care review group said he could envision a headline of "NHS staff refusing to take (Covid-19) vaccine" after hearing about the poor uptake figures in Luton.

The percentage of care home staff vaccinated is lower than for their residents, the review group heard.

And more work needs to be done to combat vaccine "nervousness" at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital.

At Luton & Dunstable Hospital, 80 per cent of white staff have been vaccinated compared to 65.5 per cent of BAME staff

"We've managed to vaccinate 86 per cent of over 80s, 87 per cent of the 75 to 80-year-olds, and 84 per cent of the 70-74-year-olds," said Nicky Poulain, primary care director of the Beds, Luton and MK CCGs.

"72 per cent of the 65 to 69-year-olds have been vaccinated so far, and 35 per cent of the 60-64 age group since Monday (March 1).

"We've looked at the 20 elderly care homes in Luton. Of the 715 residents there's 84 per cent vaccination completed.

"At care homes for people with disability there's an 80 per cent vaccine achievement.

"Of the 967 staff in those care homes, we're only at 53 per cent and little better with the staff in the disability sector at 59 per cent.

"We've equally focused on the domiciliary staff, who support people in their own homes.

"We've got to target whether that's passive or declining. We can't force people to do things."

Labour South councillor David Agbley, who chairs the group, warned: "The headline is NHS staff refusing to take the vaccine."

"What we need to understand is that there's vaccine hesitancy across all of our communities," said the director of public health, Lucy Hubber.

"We're trying to engage with them so their concerns are addressed.

"There's quite a narrative around black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

"We really need to have everyone ready to accept the vaccine when it's offered to them."

Chief executive of Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust David Carter said: "We've got figures over the ethnicity, with 80 per cent of white staff vaccinated but only 65.5 per cent of BAME staff.

"There are some differences in groups within that, so Asian staff are higher.

"Within those numbers, there are some who are unable to be vaccinated, including staff who've recently had Covid.

"We've done well overall. There are a lot of reasons, such as hesitancy around pregnancy and general nervousness regarding the vaccine.

"We've got some of our BAME leaders in the hospital to promote the message."

Labour Limbury councillor Rob Roche inquired about the number of centres locally, suggesting Luton has the lowest vaccination rate in the county.

Ms Poulain said: "So we're really clear that's quite a negative message. I don't think that's genuinely accurate with the data I've got.

"If you're comparing it with similar communities elsewhere, we're actually ahead of the game.

"This week and next week the vaccine supply is limited nationally, but from Monday, March 15, supplies will be plentiful."