Tens of thousands of NHS workers have still not received a Covid vaccination - despite a looming deadline for frontline staff to get two jabs or lose their job.
Around 85,000 workers have not yet been vaccinated, according to the latest figures published by NHS England, while a further 41,000 have had only one jab.
A spring deadline set by the UK Government will see frontline NHS workers lose their positions if not vaccinated against coronavirus.
Despite union concerns of a staff exodus, the Government said it has no plan to change the deadline.
How many NHS workers are unvaccinated?
The latest figures show that 5.7% of the country’s 1.5 million NHS trust health care workers have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine. This represents just under 85,000 members of staff.
Of those who have received one jab, 41,000 (3%) have not had their second. And of those with two jabs, 251,000 (19%) are yet to get a booster.
All together, that means that means 377,000 staff are not yet fully protected with three doses .
Not all staff included in the figures are frontline workers – the new policy will only affect those who have direct contact with patients.
Only those employed by NHS trusts are counted. Family doctors are normally contracted to Clinical Commissioning Groups rather than hospital trusts, so will not be included in the figures.
The data reveals vast regional differences, with London facing the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Across the capital, 10% of workers (21,096 people) have had no vaccine at all, while in the South West, where coverage is highest, 3.9% of workers, just over 5,700 people, have not been vaccinated.
Do unions agree that NHS staff should have mandatory vaccinations?
While supporting the uptake of vaccinations, unions are concerned about making them compulsory.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has stated it has “significant concerns” about mandating vaccines, saying it will “further marginalise those who are currently vaccine hesitant and put further pressure on a hugely depleted workforce by forcing people out of employment”.
In a survey the RCN found more than nine in 10 nursing staff had received their first dose.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has also encouraged the Government to delay the introduction of mandatory vaccinations claiming it would cause a staffing shortage.
Will NHS workers require mandatory vaccinations?
Mandatory vaccination for NHS workers is set to come into effect in the spring.
Unless medically exempt, staff need to receive their first jab by 3 February and their second by 31 March to be fully vaccinated in time for the 1 April deadline.
Care home staff in England are already subject to similar rules.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS and care staff do amazing work and we are thankful to those who have chosen to get the vaccine.
“Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19. This is about patient safety and ensuring we are doing everything we can to reduce risk for vulnerable people. There are no plans to change the implementation dates.”
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