British care home workers who are not prepared to get the COVID vaccine should “get out and get another job,’’ Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Saturday.
Javid brushed off appeals from providers to pause the legal requirement for staff in England to be fully vaccinated, amid warnings some homes will be unable to cope if workers are forced to leave.
Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, has urged the government to put back the Nov. 11, deadline for staff to have both jabs, saying it will have a knock-on effect on the National Health Service (NHS) if homes have to reduce resident numbers.
But in an uncompromising message to staff, Javid said they should not be working in the sector if they were not prepared to be vaccinated.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “If you want to work in a care home you are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our country and if you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated, then get out and go and get another job.
“If you want to look after them, if you want to cook for them, if you want to feed them, if you want to put them to bed, then you should get vaccinated.
“If you are not going to get vaccinated then why are you working in care?
“If you think about your elderly relatives you might have in care homes, and the idea that someone wants to look after them and they don’t want to take a perfectly safe and effective vaccine that has been approved by our regulators, been used all over the world, because somehow they have got some objection to this vaccine, then really, honestly, they shouldn’t be in our care homes.
“They should go and get another job. I am very clear on that.’’
Ahmed said care homes have already overcome significant resistance among staff to the vaccines.
In Nov. 2020, shortly before the vaccine programme launched, she said just 40 per cent of staff had said they would get it.
But 86 per cent of staff were now fully vaccinated, she said.
She told Today: “we are not anti-vaccine. What we are saying is we needed a bit more time to get people where they needed to be.’’
She said that without a delay to the deadline, the consequences for care homes and for the wider health sector will be severe.
“The situation is chronic now with staffing and that deadline will just add to it,” she said.
“We will have providers who are no longer able to staff their services safely and that can only mean they will have to be handing back contracts.
“They will have to be looking at whether they can minimise the number of beds that they use to keep themselves open, which will have a direct effect on the NHS’s ability to discharge people out of hospital and into care settings.’’