1 in 5 North East care workers have refused to take the Covid vaccine

One in five care workers in the North East and Yorkshire have refused to have the coronavirus vaccine. 

The news comes as the government announced a five-week consultation on plans to make the vaccinations mandatory.

Covid Vaccine Deployment Minister, Nadhim Zahawi said: "This virus is not any virus to the elderly, the frail who are in those care homes, it is a killer virus and I think it’s part of our duty of care to make sure we consult to make sure that we get it right."

Unions argued a "persuasion" approach would be better than enforcement.

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Some 13,547 care workers in the region have refused to take the Covid jab, but with 81.8 per cent having their first dose already, the North East and Yorkshire actually has the second highest take-up in England and is above the national average of 78.9 per cent.

Eothen Homes told ITV News vaccine uptake across its three care homes is around 93 per cent, with one of the homes 100 per cent vaccinated.

Bosses said there are a number of valid reasons why staff members may have been reluctant to have the jabs.

The handful of people who initially were apprehensive about the vaccine was I suppose the same as everybody else, they were the first group of people to be offered the vaccine and didn’t know a lot about it. They wanted to find out more information about it first… the general attitude is that anything they can do to keep the residents and themselves, put them at less risk is a good thing.

Christina Nichol, Eothen Homes

The chairman of the Independent Care Group, Mike Padgham, told ITV News he expects everybody to be vaccinated working in care homes over time.

He said: "I think eventually more staff will have it and I think when employers come to take new employees on, if people are of equal ability they may well take those who’ve had the vaccine as against those who haven’t and I think the market will sort itself out eventually. What I would say though is if they’re already in care, I don’t think people should be forced to have it or lose their job."

Ronagh Craddock, Unison Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The Unison union, which represents thousands of care workers in the North East said evidence showed that persuading people to have vaccines works better than coercing them to take them. 

Ronagh Craddock from Unison, said: "There’s 112,000 vacancies. It’s an area that can’t afford to lose really valuable staff and we risk alienating people actually if we are looking at a more mandatory approach. The evidence supports a voluntary approach where we’re having those persuasive conversations and really understanding what peoples’ point of view are."