Quarter of London NHS Staff Have Refused to Take Coronavirus Vaccines

A nurse wears a protective face mask as she walks outside The Royal London Hospital in east London on April 18, 2020, during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Britain's death toll from the coronavirus rose by 847 on Friday, health ministry figures showed, a slightly slower increase than the …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly one-quarter of frontline NHS staff in London have so far refused to take a vaccine for the Chinese coronavirus, figures from the National Health Service have revealed.

Throughout the country, some 91 per cent of frontline healthcare workers have taken the coronavirus vaccine.

However, in London, only 76 per cent have taken the jab, despite all staff members being offered one, the Sunday Times reported.

Accross the city, over 41,000 frontline healthcare workers have not been vaccinated, while nationwide, over 200,000 frontline healthcare workers and care home staff members have not been inoculated against the Chinese virus.

The joint chief nurse for the NHS in London, Martin Machray, said that NHS London will be translating videos about the coronavirus vaccine into commonly spoken languages in the capital besides English, in order to combat supposed misinformation spreading among specific groups.

“Vaccinating staff is critical to the safe running of health and care settings, so we are working with trusts to ensure that all staff feel confident in taking the vaccine,” Mr Machray said.

There have been growing concerns over the slow uptake of the coronavirus vaccines among so-called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) communities within the UK, sparking fears that the country may see “pockets of infection” as it tries to lift lockdown restrictions.

An analysis of over 19,000 healthcare workers at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust found that as of February 3rd, 64.5 per cent of staff had received a coronavirus vaccine. While the vaccine takeup from white staff members was at 71 per cent, it dropped to 59 per cent for those with South Asian heritage, and lower still at 37 per cent for black staff members.

It was also revealed last month that at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, only a quarter of black and Filipino staff had taken the vaccine, compared to 80 per cent of the staff as a whole.

In January, the government’s top health quango, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), issued a report claiming that “structural and institutional racism and discrimination” played a central role in the hesitancy to take the vaccine among minority groups.

The report found that vaccine hesitancy was most prevalent within the black community, at 72 per cent, followed by Pakistani/Bangladeshi at 42.3%.

“Trust is also undermined by structural and institutional racism and discrimination. Minority ethnic groups have historically been underrepresented within health research, including vaccines trials, which can influence trust in a particular vaccine being perceived as appropriate and safe, and concerns that immunisation research is not ethnically heterogeneous,” the SAGE report stated.

The director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, Dr Habib Naqvi, said that language barriers may be partly to blame, but noted that misinformation spread among certain groups is also a factor.

“We need to be clear to our communities that there is no meat or meat products in the vaccine. There is no pork, there is no alcohol and it has been endorsed by religious leaders and religious councils,” Dr Naqvi said.

On Sunday, an NHS spokesman said: “While it is for Government and Parliament to decide which groups of people are required to get the vaccine, the NHS national medical director and chief nurse agree with Chris Whitty, with the chair of the BMA and other professional leaders that NHS staff have a duty to be vaccinated unless they have a valid clinical reason not to do so.

“Any member of NHS staff who has not yet taken up the offer should speak to their employer about getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others.”

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