Chart of the week: Picking up the pace – vaccinations across frontline health and social care staff

Each week we present analysis of data in chart form to illustrate some key issues and invite discussion. Frontline health and social care staff were close to the front of the queue when the vaccination programme began at the end of last year, and a large percentage of staff have received a first dose. But this week's chart from Nina Hemmings shows that vaccine rates for people working in social care are well below those of health care staff.

Data story

Published: 10/03/2021

Frontline health and social care workers were put towards the front of the queue for the vaccine in recognition of their increased risk of exposure and transmission of Covid-19.

By the end of February, an estimated 13 out of every 14 NHS health care workers had received their first dose. However, vaccine rates for social care staff lag behind those working in the health service. Rates also vary widely across the English regions, with the North East and Yorkshire witnessing the highest proportions of the workforce vaccinated, and London the lowest.

Despite being among the ‘first in line’, fewer than 3 in 4 staff working in care homes for older adults have received a first dose. Rates for other social care staff are even lower with fewer than 3 in 5 having had their first dose. This includes home care workers and personal assistants but not unpaid carers. As a comparison, more than 9 in 10 people aged 80 and over have received a first dose.

Around 80,000 frontline NHS staff and 579,697 social care staff have yet to receive a first dose. Of course, not all staff are eligible: just over 19,000 (4%) staff in care homes for older people have had COVID-19 within 28 days; others may be ineligible for other medical reasons. There are also continuing logistical challenges given social care staff are dispersed across 18,200 providers, and half of all staff work part-time. 

The government is reportedly assessing mandatory vaccination for eligible health and care staff as part of its review on vaccination passports. This assessment is fraught with ethical, moral and legal implications. There is some degree of precedent, with some NHS staff contracts already requiring inoculation against certain diseases (such as Hepatitis B), and some care providers are already beginning to introduce “no jab no job” recruitment policies. But Denmark’s recent aborted efforts to make the vaccination mandatory offer a cautionary tale.

Speed of vaccine rollout in health and social care staff (England) 10/03/2021

Chart

Note:  

Data represents the proportion of total estimated staff who have received at least 1 dose of a vaccine, with a vaccination date between 8th December 2020 to 28th February 2021.

For residents and social care staff at CQC-registered care homes for those aged 65 and older, proportions have been recalculated (to include those identified as non-eligible due to having had covid-19 in the last 28 days), in order to compare directly with the other demographic groups.

Social care staff in ‘other settings’ includes non-registered providers and those employed by local government, NHS, private sector or the third sector (as of 1st March 2021).

Source:  

Nuffield Trust analysis of NHS England COVID-19 weekly announced vaccinations data, published 4th March 2021.

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