Comment

Priority COVID-19 vaccination means all nurses, not just those in the NHS

Front-line staff at care homes, agencies and other private organisations mustn’t be left behind

Front-line staff at care homes, agencies and other private organisations mustnt be left behind

Sore arm, fleeting fatigue but Ive had my first vaccination against COVID-19 and Im happy to put up with any side effects to protect myself against this virus.

I was not in one of the top priority groups but, so efficient has been the roll-out of the programme, I was called in before my time to fill a free slot.

Not all healthcare staff have been vaccinated

As a bonus they vaccinated my husband, who accompanied me to the appointment, even though his own appointment was yet to come.

The whole experience was slick and good-humoured. In other words, typical

Front-line staff at care homes, agencies and other private organisations mustn’t be left behind

Picture: Alamy

Sore arm, fleeting fatigue – but I’ve had my first vaccination against COVID-19 and I’m happy to put up with any side effects to protect myself against this virus.

I was not in one of the top priority groups but, so efficient has been the roll-out of the programme, I was called in before my time to fill a free slot.

Not all healthcare staff have been vaccinated

As a bonus they vaccinated my husband, who accompanied me to the appointment, even though his own appointment was yet to come.

The whole experience was slick and good-humoured. In other words, typical of the NHS.

Not everyone who should be has been vaccinated, though.

The government aimed to have offered a vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups – which includes all healthcare staff – by 15 February.

But a recent RCN survey indicated that many nurses who are employed in organisations other than the NHS have slipped through the net.

Nurses not employed by the NHS are missing out

These are nurses who work for care homes, agencies and other private concerns, and there are many of them out there. Almost a fifth (19%) of 1,817 nursing staff in care homes had not received a vaccine, the survey found.

If these nurses worked for the public sector, they would now have an aching arm like mine and be sporting a sticker with a cartoon syringe on it saying ‘I’ve been jabbed, have you?’ or something similar.

This hasn’t happened and, while a tiny percentage of staff have opted not to have the vaccine, many of those who have not received one have not been offered one.

The onus is on their employers to ensure they are properly protected and it is hard to get a full understanding of why this has failed to happen.

Nurses in the private sector are front-line staff too

Whatever the reason, these nurses are as ‘front-line’ as anyone and caring for some of the country’s most vulnerable patients.

It is a matter of urgency that they are inoculated as soon as possible.

At this stage, over-seventies who have not received an appointment for their jab are being encouraged to make contact themselves. Overlooked healthcare workers should do the same.

The government says it met its target of getting the top four priority groups vaccinated by its first deadline of mid-February. But there is a notable exception – this small cohort of nurses, who really deserve better.


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