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COVID-19 vaccine: nursing staff outside the NHS in longer wait for second jab

Gap in coverage between nurses working for the NHS and those in other sectors 
nursing staff member receives coronavirus vaccine as RCN survey points to gap in coverage across nurse workforce

Gap in coverage between nurses working for the health service and those in other sectors, RCN survey suggests

Almost half of nursing staff outside the NHS could still be waiting for their second coronavirus vaccine dose, an RCN survey suggests.

The colleges research points to a significant gap between vaccine coverage between NHS nursing staff and their counterparts elsewhere.

Survey responses to an RCN poll in April revealed 46% of participating staff outside the NHS had not had their second jab, in contrast to just under a quarter of those who work in the NHS.

Nine in ten respondents had been given their first vaccine dose.

Disparities in vaccine coverage first began to emerge in RCN

Gap in coverage between nurses working for the health service and those in other sectors, RCN survey suggests

nursing staff member receives coronavirus vaccine as RCN survey points to gap in coverage across nurse workforce
Picture: Alamy

Almost half of nursing staff outside the NHS could still be waiting for their second coronavirus vaccine dose, an RCN survey suggests.

The college’s research points to a significant gap between vaccine coverage between NHS nursing staff and their counterparts elsewhere.

Survey responses to an RCN poll in April revealed 46% of participating staff outside the NHS had not had their second jab, in contrast to just under a quarter of those who work in the NHS.

Nine in ten respondents had been given their first vaccine dose.

Disparities in vaccine coverage first began to emerge in RCN research conducted in February.

Jude Diggins

‘Nursing staff must not slip through the net’

RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs Jude Diggins said: ‘Nursing staff have overwhelmingly received their first doses. The gap between NHS and non-NHS staff having their first dose has closed but there remains more work to be done to ensure all nursing staff are given the protection they need.’

‘Every effort must be made to prevent nursing staff from slipping through the net. Their safety must be the government’s top concern and that cannot be compromised.’

RCN April vaccination survey findings

The survey ran from 31 March to 6 April, 2021 and attracted 20,370 responses; 13,607 came from nursing staff working in NHS and 4,729 from members working outside the health service. Some 2,034 respondents were students or retired.

  • 19,148 (94%) of all respondents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • 12,629 (62%) had received both vaccine doses
  • 2,175 (46%) of nursing staff outside the NHS are waiting for their second jab
  • 3,265 (24%) of NHS respondents are waiting for their second jab

Overall, approximately one in 50 respondents said they had not yet been offered the vaccine.

Guidance advises on priority criteria for healthcare staff vaccination programme

NHS guidance states all front-line staff should be offered a vaccine, with priority given to those staff at high-risk of acquiring infection or developing serious disease and those at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable people or other healthcare staff.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said all healthcare staff in priority groups 1 to 9 can now book a vaccine and will receive a second dose within 12 weeks.

‘We have visited every eligible care home in England, offered vaccines to all staff, and continue to work closely with the care sector, independent healthcare providers and local leaders, to maximise vaccination numbers and save thousands of lives,’ the spokesperson added.


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