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COVID-19: Some nurses at risk of being left behind

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85% of nurses have been vaccinated 85% of nurses have been vaccinated

Agency and temporary nursing staff could be at risk, as a survey shows majority of those who hadn’t received or been offered the vaccine are employed outside the NHS.

The survey, produced by the RCN, found that 85% of respondents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 7% who had received both doses. This is a significant achievement for the vaccination programme, which nursing staff are key to delivering. However, 15% of respondents hadn’t received the vaccine and the results show that of those who haven’t yet been offered it, 70% work in non-NHS settings.

Read more: Over 4 million people receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

‘Temporary and agency staff work in our communities and hospitals, with patients and the public – and they face the same level of risk as their NHS colleagues. Every effort must be made to reach all nursing staff to ensure the protection of patients and vulnerable people,’ said RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair.

Overall, regardless of where they worked, more than two in five agency nursing staff and one in four temporary staff, who often cover short-staffed areas, had not received a vaccine – compared to just one in eight hospital workers.

Read more: COVID-19: New Oxford vaccine rolled out to general practice services

‘The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance is clear that the COVID-19 vaccine should be available to all health and social care staff. This is irrespective of where they are employed, including agency staff and those employed in the independent sectors,’ added Dame Donna.

‘Employers are ultimately responsible for ensuring all their staff are able to access the vaccine. But the government must intervene now, as our members have proven this is clearly not the case.’

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