Boost for jabs, but unions call for mandate’s delay
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Boost for jabs, but unions call for mandate’s delay

Alison Stacey @alibaabra

Nurses united on social media to promote voluntary uptake of COVID-19 vaccination.

Nursing Standard. 37, 2, 7-7. doi: 10.7748/ns.37.2.7.s4

Published: 02 February 2022

Dame Elizabeth Anionwu shared pictures of herself getting the jab, and tweeted: ‘They say a picture is worth a thousand words – well here are three taken when I had those three COVID-19 vaccinations.’

Another nurse said it is the ‘single most important thing I, we, can do to avoid being admitted to ICU or dying from COVID’.

The social media pleas come as unions called for a delay to mandatory vaccinations for NHS staff in England, warning it would be ‘self-sabotage’ at a time when the health service faces high numbers of staff absences.

The RCN, Royal College of Midwives and Trades Union Congress all said a combination of high staff absence due to the and loss of unvaccinated staff would force a workforce crisis.


Dame Elizabeth Anionwu was among the nurses who promoted voluntary vaccination on Twitter

Picture credit: Elizabeth Anionwu

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the college supported vaccination, but current staffing pressures mean that patient safety was being compromised.

‘Nothing matters more to a nurse than caring for their patients safely. Right now, our members are telling me they can’t always do that,’ she said.

‘We are calling on the government to recognise this risk and delay a move which by its own calculations looks to backfire. To dismiss valued nursing staff during this crisis would be an act of self-sabotage.’

Large-scale departures

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was ‘precisely the wrong time’ to implement the policy.

Around 73,000 NHS staff could be lost when mandatory jabs become a condition of working for patient-facing NHS staff on 1 April, according to the government’s own impact assessment.

Trade unions have instead called for staff to be provided with high grade PPE and priority testing to avoid them catching the virus.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said the requirement was being kept ‘under review’ but his department said there was no change in policy. A spokesperson said: ‘This is about patient safety and ensuring people in hospital or care have as much protection as possible. Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19.’

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