With more than 24,000 responses, a recent survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that 85% of respondents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 7% who had received both doses.
The RCN described the latest figures as "a significant achievement" for the vaccination programme, but pointed out that 15% of respondents hadn’t received the vaccine. The results show that of those who haven’t yet been offered it, 70% work in non-NHS settings.
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.
The RCN called on the Government to "redouble its efforts to reach agency and temporary nursing staff who are being left behind in the vaccination programme."
RCN chief executive and general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
The RCN has compiled some COVID-19 vaccination FAQs to provide advice, and is urging nursing staff to call 0345 772 6100 if they continue to have problems accessing the vaccine.