The London borough where half of care home staff haven’t had a COVID vaccine

Connor Parker
·3 min read
Most care workers have received their first jab (PA)
Many care workers have received their first jab. (PA)

Lambeth has the lowest proportion of care home staff who have been given a first dose of COVID vaccine in England, NHS figures show.

The data published on Thursday showed that 51.6% of eligible older adult care home staff in the London borough had been given their first jab by 4 April – compared to about 80% nationwide. 

This was followed by Luton at 59.0%, Wandsworth at 60.1%, and Redbridge at 62.1%, the figures showed.

This compares with Blackpool, which had the highest proportion in England, at 91.0%.

Staff are classed as eligible for the vaccine if they have not had COVID-19 in the previous 28 days.

Matt Hancock said on Thursday that around 80% of care home staff have now received a jab.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m very pleased to say that the uptake of the vaccine in care home workers is now 80%, four in five. There’s still more work to do but I’m very grateful to the care home workers who’ve been coming forward.”

Pressed on whether jabs could be made compulsory for care workers, he said: “We haven’t made an announcement on that, we haven’t said anything about that. But the uptake has been going up and that’s very important.”

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The worrying numbers are likely to increase debate over whether vaccines should be mandatory for care home workers who spend their days in contact with the most people most vulnerable to the virus.

Although practically all residents of care homes have been given their first dose of the vaccine it will still be some time before they all get their second jabs and develop full immunity.

The vaccine rollout is continuing at pace, despite warnings the UK would see a downturn in vaccine numbers in April.

The latest figures show just under 32 million first doses have been administered in the UK, with just over six million second injections.

Almost all care home residents have been given their first dose of the vaccine. (PA)
Almost all care home residents have been given their first dose of the vaccine. (PA)

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The past few days have seen the number of second doses being given far outstrip the number of first doses as the most vulnerable in society come to the end of their 12 week period and come due for their second jab.

Care home workers were listed in the first four priority groups for the vaccines and should have all been offered their first dose by the middle of February.

It is understood the government is still considering whether to make COVID vaccines mandatory for care workers, despite the idea being criticised by trade unions and care groups.

Last month, Hancock said "no final decision" had been taken over the idea.

The National Care Forum, Independent Care Group, Four Seasons Health Care, Unison and the GMB union have all expressed concern over compulsory vaccination.

Some care groups have supported the idea.

Independent Care Group chairman Mike Padgham said it is vital care workers get vaccinated but it should be voluntary, adding: “I think rather than force it through legislation, the government has more work to do in terms of persuading everyone, not just care workers, about how important it is that the whole country has the vaccine so that we are all protected.

“There are already 120,000 vacancies in the care sector, we don’t need to put anything else in the way that might prevent people from joining our rewarding profession.”

The GMB union said care workers should not be “strong-armed or bullied with threats of the law”.