Leading health and social care professionals have released a united call for frontline colleagues to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine over the coming weeks, ensuring they can protect themselves and others.
In a letter being circulated to all local NHS employers, councils and social care providers, care leaders encouraged workers who are eligible for the vaccine to do their “collective duty” and “lead by example” by taking up the offer of the vaccine.
At present, it is not compulsory for health and care staff to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - though they are being actively encouraged to receive it.
Working to continuously expand the UK vaccine delivery network, with local hospital hubs, vaccination centres or GP-led sites, the NHS is aiming to have offered all eligible staff - estimated at around four million people - their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the middle of February 2021.
The vaccinating of NHS workers forms part of the UK Government’s ambitions to have offered vaccinations to millions of people in the top four priority groups, as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), in the same time period.
For the currently approved vaccines, the first dose delivers the vast majority of the protection, gained two weeks after it is administered and significantly reducing the chances of staff becoming ill if they come into contact with the virus, before a secondary dose will bolster the protection.
At present, none of the vaccines will completely prevent Covid-19 infection; rather, it will help offer protection for those vaccinated by limiting the risk of serious illness and minimising the potential for transmission.
All health and care staff will receive their second dose within 12 weeks, in line with guidance from the JCVI and four UK Chief Medical Officers, designed to protect people as quickly as possible and save more lives.
The letter was signed by the country’s top nurse, social care nurse, midwife, GP, pharmacist, allied health professional, healthcare scientist and dentist, along with the NHS National Medical Director and Chief People Officer.
Eligible staff are being invited for their vaccination either where they work, at a local hospital hub, a vaccination centre or through a local GP-led service.
Non-NHS employers, such as local authorities and home care providers, are working together with local vaccination teams to identify eligible workers and arrange for them to be vaccinated.