Care staff are almost twice as likely to refuse a COVID jab if they have been threatened or not been give vaccination advice by their employer, a UNISON survey has found.
The survey of 4,000 UK workers found that one in five care workers (21%) who said they had been threatened or not been given support had not been vaccinated, compared with 12% of staff overall who had not had a jab.
The majority (88%) of care workers had received a jab, compared with just over one in ten (12%) who had not.
The most common response from non-vaccinated staff was they had simply turned down the offer (65%). This was followed by other reasons (24%) such as pregnancy, the desire to do more research or because they were still waiting for an appointment.
The remaining staff who hadn’t been vaccinated said they had a medical exemption (7%), had been off work sick (7%) or that appointment times offered did not fit their shift patterns (6%).
Overall, more than two thirds (68%) of those who took part in the survey said their employer had provided support and advice about the COVID vaccine.
But nearly a third had received no helpful advice from their employer (33%), with 18% of these staff saying employers had imposed a deadline for them to get the jab.
A further 9% said their boss threatened to sack them if they turned down the offer of a vaccination, and (3%) were told their pay would be cut. Others (60%) talked of bullying, emotional blackmail, or threats of no more shifts.
UNISON senior national officer for social care Gavin Edwards said: “Vaccinations are the way out of this pandemic. But forcing staff to get jabbed won’t work, nor will threats and bullying.
“The government should concentrate on persuasion and reassurance. The care sector is facing huge staff shortages. This already dire situation will only get worse if employees feel coerced and unsupported.”
The survey findings came as the social care sector awaits the findings of a five-week government consultation on the introduction of mandatory vaccinations for care home staff.
However, Steve Dorrington, who run care homes in East Anglia, told the Eastern Daily Press that having mandatory vaccination would be like “shooting yourself in the foot”.
Mr Dorrington, who said a quarter of its staff remain unvaccinated despite his “endless” pleas, said: “I can’t see how you could enforce it. You’ve got people delivering stuff to the kitchens. You’ve got people [coming in] fixing things.”