Almost 150 carers risk unemployment if they refuse Covid vaccine

A Covid-19 vaccine vial (credit Katrina Campbell)
A Covid-19 vaccine vial (credit Katrina Campbell)

Almost 150 of the borough’s care home staff risk losing their jobs if they don’t get their first Covid vaccine in the next fortnight.

Care home staff must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by 11th November, according to a new law, meaning they need their first dose by 16th September.

Out of more than 1,000 care home staff across the borough, all but 142 have now been vaccinated or provided proof of a medical exemption.

A report prepared by Waltham Forest Council notes “the biggest reason” given by the remaining unvaccinated staff was “wanting more time”, as well as “religious reasons and fertility concerns”, despite there being no animal products in the vaccine or evidence it affects fertility.

However, the borough’s private care home providers report that only “a very low number of staff” have said they will “leave the profession rather than be vaccinated”.

Regarding the 19 unvaccinated staff in the council’s three care homes, the report adds: “These staff have received an individual letter from HR outlining the implications for their employment should they decide not to take up their vaccine.

“We are currently confident in making further inroads with these staff and do not anticipate any significant risk if there is small reduction in staff.”

The new law hopes to protect vulnerable residents from the virus, after 45 Waltham Forest care home residents died in the 2020/21 financial year, according to figures released by the CQC in July.

Eleven of the borough’s care homes reported deaths from Covid, with the worst affected being Albany Nursing Home and Aspray House in Leyton and Heathlands Care Home in Chingford.

The borough fared better than neighbouring Redbridge and Havering, which both lost more than 100 care home residents each to the virus.

The 45 deaths in Waltham Forest also represent less than 2% of the 2,635 Covid deaths reported in care homes across London over that period.