Just 40% of frontline NHS staff have had a booster Covid vaccine

Just 40% of frontline NHS staff have had a booster Covid vaccine

November 26, 2021

Just 40% of frontline NHS staff in England had a booster Covid vaccine at start of November and fewer than three in 10 care home staff are triple-jabbed now — despite being first in queue for third doses

  • Figures show 6 weeks into the Covid booster campaign only four in 10 frontline NHS staff opted to get the jab 
  • Doctors were group most likely to have had the booster, but even this was still less than half total staff number
  • Data from some of the largest trusts in the country show that 80% of some staff have not had the booster jab 

Around 500,000 frontline NHS staff — the equivalent of six in 10 —failed to get their Covid booster in the first six weeks it was available, official data shows. 

The shocking figure comes as NHS leaders, including chief executive Amanda Pritchard, told the public they have to get their third jab to save the health service this winter. 

But just 330,000 out of 825,000 frontline health staff across England had the crucial third dose by October 31, according to NHS data, despite being first in line for boosters when they were first rolled out on September 16.

Only 45 per cent of the country’s doctors were boosted by the end of last month and just 38 per cent of nurses were triple-jabbed — many of whom work with patients who are extremely vulnerable to Covid. The proportion for all NHS staff is now nearly three quarters, NHS England said.

Separate but more up-to-date data has also shown how only about 29 per cent of care home staff received a booster jab as of November 21. 

NHS staff were among the first people in the UK to be offered Covid vaccines from the end of 2020 onwards, meaning they were among the first eligible for a booster when the third doses were approved in December. 

Health and care workers were prioritised for Covid vaccines to not only offer them protection from the virus but to reduce the chance they could spread to patients, particularly those with health conditions which could make them vulnerable to infection. 

A ‘no jab, no job’ policy was introduced in care homes earlier this month, meaning any staff member who was not double-vaccinated had to be sacked. Some 60,000 workers were thought to have been forced out of the door.

And the same mandate will be introduced on April 1 in the health service, but whether or not the Government applies the rules to booster vaccines remains to be seen.

Data shows that protection against infection from two jabs wane quite significantly at six months — to about 40 per cent for AstraZeneca and 50-60 per cent with Pfizer or Moderna. A booster tops it up to around 90 per cent. 

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist from the University of Reading, told MailOnline that the numbers were ‘very low’ and that staff were ‘putting people at risk’.

An NHS spokesperson, said: ‘This data is almost a month old now and as of yesterday three quarters of staff have now had their booster.’ They told MailOnline not all staff would have been eligible at the end of last month, and many would have had their booster dose booked in even if they hadn’t had one at the time.

New Government data has shown that by six weeks into the Covid booster campaign only about 40 per cent of frontline NHS staff, who are directly involved with patient care, have had their third jab

All staff groups involved in direct patient care reported a Covid booster uptake below 50 per cent. Doctors were the ones most likely to get a third vaccine dose, followed by qualified clinical staff, a group that includes midwives and paramedics, nurses, and finally support staff such as healthcare assistants coming in last

Dr Clarke said: ‘It’s putting people at risk. I find it odd that people would have had both jabs and be reluctant to get a booster, although it could be down to the fact that they haven’t been offered one yet.

‘It is always worth reminding people that while the vaccine isn’t necessarily all that great at stopping you passing Covid to someone else, it does stop you getting it in the first place.

‘There has been a lot of Covid taken from the community into hospitals during the pandemic and by not getting boosted, staff could pick it up quite easily.’

On Ms Pritchard and other NHS leaders telling Brits they need to get boosters to save the NHS, Dr Clarke added: ‘It is a bit rich. She should be pushing to get the NHS’s own booster level up but at the same time time the public has its bit to play.’

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) staff vaccination report, which contains data supplied by 157 out of the 215 NHS trusts in England, is a detailed breakdown of vaccination of health care workers in England. 

Doctors were the most likely group to have their booster, with 45.6 per cent getting the third jab, followed by professionally qualified clinical staff — a group that includes midwives and paramedics — at 39.4 per cent.

They were followed by nurses (37.4 per cent) and finally support staff, such as healthcare assistants (31.7 per cent).

In some of the largest trusts in the country, such as Manchester University Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, which between them employ nearly 40,000 frontline health workers, less than one in five have had a Covid booster.

Less than 30% of care home staff have had their vaccine booster dose, official figures show  

Less than three in ten care home workers have taken up the offer of a Covid vaccine booster dose, official figures show.

Data from NHS England show just 132,000 out of nearly 460,000 care home staff (28.8 per cent) had a third jab by November 21 — despite the Department of Health urging all eligible Britons to come forward for a booster before December 11.

Some 93.5 per cent of staff have had their second dose and most will have been eligible since the early days of the booster rollout because they were offered their first doses in December last year.

Care homes in London had the lowest uptake in the country with just 20 per cent of staff booking in their booster shot. More than 27,000 care workers in the capital have not had a third dose.

In comparison, staff in the North East and Yorkshire as well as the South East had the highest uptakes in the country — but were both still just a third.

Less than 70 per cent of care home residents have had a booster, the same data showed, leaving many vulnerable to the virus with immunity waning from their second jabs.

DHSC yesterday launched a public drive to improve third dose uptake among the public, telling eligible adults to book theirs in before mid-December to ensure they are well protected by Christmas day.

Others, such as Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation, which employs 16,862 staff are doing better, with just over half of eligible frontline staff having got their jab. 

The data is submitted to UKHSA by NHS Trusts voluntarily and only 73 per cent provided information, meaning the full picture of how the staff vaccination is going is unknown. 

Overall NHS England data is less specific but suggests around 75 per cent had their booster by November 24, but unlike the UKHSA data this does not detail staff role or how individual trusts are performing. 

It is unclear why so many frontline staff have not got their Covid boosters, with vaccine hesitancy unlikely to blame considering the vast majority have already had their first two Covid vaccines.

The Covid booster campaign kicked off in mid-September but was marred by a slow start, with eligible people reporting that they were struggling to book an appointment or were being told their nearest available vaccine centre was miles from where they lived.

While most NHS staff would have been vaccinated through work some could have also been caught in the chaos of the initial booster rollout. 

The low booster figures will fuel concerns that some NHS staff may choose to jump ship over No10’s ‘no jab no job’ policy, set to come in next Spring. 

Official Government projections have warned the ‘no jab, no job’ rule would only spur on 20,000 workers to get vaccinated, forcing 70,000 out the door when it gets enforced in April. 

Unions have warned the controversial policy threatens to do more harm than good by exacerbating crippling staff shortages across England’s health service, which already has a crippling level of vacancies. 

But the Health Secretary has stuck by the move, claiming it is the ‘duty’ of NHS workers to get the jab in order to protect patients, and insisted that he does ‘not want to see anyone have to walk away from their job’.

This came despite warnings from the care sector indicating a compulsory vaccination policy brought in this month was already causing havoc in terms of staffing levels. 

National data for England has also revealed that  more than two-thirds of care home staff and almost a third of residents in England have not received Covid booster, latest figures have suggested.

Only 28.8 per cent of staff and 69.7 per cent of residents had received a booster jab as of November 21, according to figures from NHS England.

This means 71.2 per cent of staff (326,281 staff) and 30.3 per cent of residents (95,716 residents) have not been recorded as having received their booster as of Sunday. 

The figures are based on responses from 96.5 per cent of older age care homes and 93.1 per cent of younger age care homes.

There will be some staff whose vaccination status is unknown while there may also be a time lag in some vaccinations being reported, NHS England said.

The Government’s target was to have offered boosters to all care homes by early November.

On November 5, it said boosters had been either already delivered or booked in at every older adult care home in England where safe to do so. 

Covid booster jabs are available six months after a second dose for all adults aged 40 and over, along with other key groups including frontline health and social care workers, while third doses are available eight weeks after a second dose to people aged 12 and over with severely weakened immune systems. 

Currently 16 million boosters have been administered, suggesting 7million (30 per cent) of eligible Britons have still to come forward.  

Now 95% of 16- to 24-year-olds have Covid antibodies, official data reveals

Graph shows: The proportion of people in different age groups who tested positive for Covid antibodies (green line), have had a first vaccine dose (light blue line) and second vaccine dose (dark blue line) from the weeks beginning December 7 to September 27

More than 95 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds in England currently have Covid antibodies, according to official data.

Office for National Statistics figures released today show 92.2 per cent of the adult population tested positive for the virus-fighting proteins in the week ending October 3.

Despite less than half of those aged 16 to 24 having had both Covid vaccines, 95.6 per cent of people in the age group are estimated to have the antibodies — suggesting natural infection has helped build their immunity. 

The proportion was even higher in Northern Ireland (95.8 per cent) and around the same level in both Wales and Scotland (95.4 per cent). 

The ONS said: ‘Our survey shows that in the week beginning September 27, the percentage of adults testing positive for coronavirus antibodies remained high. 

‘It has increased in younger adults and is showing signs of a slow decline in older adults. 

‘We estimate that the antibody positivity for those aged 16 to 24 years increased steadily across all four UK countries, with estimates ranging between 95.4 per cent and 95.8 per cent across the UK, for the week beginning September 27.’ 

Antibody levels appear to be dipping in the over-60s, despite at least 98 per cent of the age group having had both jabs.

They were lowest in 70- to 74-year-olds (86 per cent) and 75- to 79-year-olds (86.7 per cent).

But people aged 80 and above had the highest antibody levels (89.3 per cent) — even though they were the first to receive their second vaccine dose. 

Britain began rolling out third booster doses on September 16, two weeks before the ONS’s most recent tests, suggesting antibody levels may have started increasing because of the programme.

The ONS — which analyses tens of thousands of blood samples every fortnight — doesn’t break down whether antibodies came from jabs or infection.

Their presence generally means a person has at least some protection against the disease and won’t fall ill. 

Testing positive does not make someone completely immune, however, and people who have them can still get sick. 

Getting a positive test result means only that there were a certain amount of them in their body at the time of the test.

Scientists say levels dip naturally over time and people may not have any detectable antibodies now — even if they did so last year. 

And likewise, people who test negative may still be protected from the virus because there are other parts of the immune system geared up to fight off invaders, such as T cells.    

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