Hundreds of Sunderland and South Tyneside hospital staff have no virus jab
Hundreds of health care workers at hospitals in Sunderland and South Tyneside have yet to have a coronavirus jab, new figures show.
NHS England figures show that, of the 8,854 health care workers at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, 8,478 (95.8%) had received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of September – meaning 376 workers are still unvaccinated.
The figures also show 92.8% of staff had received both doses.
The Government is due to announce its decision on whether to make vaccines mandatory for frontline NHS staff, though several leading health bodies have cautioned against doing so.
Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at the Trust, said: "Our campaign is underway to offer our staff their booster COVID vaccine, as soon as they are able to be given, as well as their annual flu jab.
"We continue to encourage all colleagues to get their immunisations and it is a positive that so many of our staff who are eligible have already got both their doses.”
He added: "The vaccination programme has been a huge undertaking for the NHS and I'd like to thank our staff, whether it has been to help deliver the campaign or by making sure they are protected themselves and I encourage the public to also get their vaccinations when they are contacted."
The vaccine figures at the trust are above the average, with nationally, 110,000 health care workers not vaccinated.
Around 92.4% of staff have had at least one dose, and 89% both.
The Royal College of GPs has strongly urged all health and care professionals to be vaccinated, saying it will help protect them, their colleagues and their patients from contracting Covid-19.
However, Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, added: "Whilst we understand the desire of some people to make vaccination mandatory, we don’t agree with it as informed and educated choices about health interventions would be more beneficial long-term than enforcing them, which risks leading to resentment and mistrust."
He added: "There are also workforce implications to consider at a time when we need as many people as possible working in the health and care sectors.”
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Where uptake needs to increase, leaders are working with their teams ensuring they are fully supported.
"Making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for frontline workers could have its advantages in the NHS but the Government needs to carry out a full risk assessment to ensure there was no adverse impact on staff retention and recruitment at a time when the NHS is facing a significant increase in demand for its services.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to encourage the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated to protect both themselves and patients.”
A Government consultation on whether to make vaccines mandatory for health workers closed on October 22.
It also questioned whether flu vaccines should be a requirement.