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Vaccine hesitancy: nurse tells of ‘insurmountable’ pressure to get jab or lose job

From 1 April, all patient-facing NHS staff must have had both COVID-19 vaccine doses

From 1 April patient-facing NHS staff must have had both COVID vaccine doses as unions call for delay in mandatory jabs in light of vacancies and absences

An unvaccinated nurse has said the pressure on staff to get jabbed is ‘insurmountable’ as she faces losing her job.

The mental healthcare nurse, who did not want to be named, told Nursing Standard she doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine, but just wants more time to decide whether to have it.

Not anti-vaxxer, but nurse feels ‘dehumanised’ as government deadline fast approaches

From 1 April, all patient-facing NHS staff must have had both doses of the vaccine to continue working in their jobs. Staff are expected to have

From 1 April patient-facing NHS staff must have had both COVID vaccine doses as unions call for delay in mandatory jabs in light of vacancies and absences

From 1 April patient-facing NHS staff must have had both COVID-19 vaccine doses
Picture: Alamy

An unvaccinated nurse has said the pressure on staff to get jabbed is ‘insurmountable’ as she faces losing her job.

The mental healthcare nurse, who did not want to be named, told Nursing Standard she doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine, but just wants more time to decide whether to have it.

Not anti-vaxxer, but nurse feels ‘dehumanised’ as government deadline fast approaches

From 1 April, all patient-facing NHS staff must have had both doses of the vaccine to continue working in their jobs. Staff are expected to have had their first dose by 3 February.

The nurse said she felt ‘dehumanised and coerced’ as the government’s deadline fast approaches.

‘I’m not a conspiracy theorist or an anti-vaxxer. I have had all my other vaccinations, including Hepatitis B and MMR. I just want more time to decide whether I want the vaccine,’ she told Nursing Standard.

‘Five people I know have had very serious reactions to the vaccine, including my partner’s mother who had a stroke and a colleague who had a blood clot.’

According to the government COVID-19 green book published by the UK Health Security Agency, rare events of thrombosis have been recorded following the AstraZeneca vaccine of around 15 cases per million in the UK, with a higher incidence in younger people.

Coerced or forced to make medical decisions goes against training, says nurse

While around 95% of NHS staff have had the vaccine, the latest data published by NHS England shows there are 80,000 members of trust healthcare staff that are yet to get their first dose.

While some may be exempt, others remain hesitant, with some unsatisfied that there is evidence it reduces transmission.

‘I’m 31, so in a low-risk age group, I take precautions and test almost daily,’ she said.

‘But the pressure is insurmountable, and the whole thing has been dehumanising. With this threat of losing my job hanging over me, I don’t know how I am able to make this decision now without feeling like I was coerced.

‘I love my job and I love being a nurse, but people should never be forced into medical decisions – it goes against all my training.’

Unions call on government to delay mandatory jabs while NHS faces huge nursing vacancies

She called on the government to instead focus on providing nurses with adequately ventilated buildings and high-grade personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The RCN, TUC and Royal College of Midwives have called on the government to delay mandatory vaccine plans while the NHS faces huge nursing vacancies and staff absences related to COVID-19. The RCN has previously encouraged all members to get the vaccine.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said the April deadline remains in place. Last week, NHS England issued guidance to employers on how to redeploy and legally dismiss staff who refuse to have the vaccine before 1 April.

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said the mandatory jabs deadline ‘only increases the risk that there won’t be enough nursing staff to care for patients safely’.

‘Encouraging people to get vaccinated is the best way to boost vaccine take-up, not threatening their livelihoods,’ she added.


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