Older people’s commissioner urges unvaccinated care home staff to get Covid jab

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By Rebecca Black, PA

Northern Ireland’s commissioner for older people has urged the remaining unvaccinated care home staff to get the Covid-19 jab.

Eddie Lynch was speaking as it emerged that around a quarter of care home staff have not yet been vaccinated against the virus.

More than 90% of care home residents have had both doses of the jab.

According to Department of Health figures on Wednesday, there are currently active Covid-19 outbreaks at 103 care homes in Northern Ireland.

“Over a fifth of care homes now are in a Covid outbreak and that is concerning when you consider that only a few weeks ago we were in single figures,” he told the BBC.

“I think that reflects the higher community transmission that is happening across Northern Ireland at the minute.”

Mr Lynch said a number of the outbreaks involved small numbers of cases and unlike last year he is hearing that the number getting very seriously ill from Covid-19 in care homes is “very small at the minute”.

He said the weekly testing regime in care homes is picking up a number of staff members who are positive without symptoms.

Mr Lynch appealed to care home workers who are not yet vaccinated to do so.

“I would call on anyone who can be vaccinated to do so as soon as possible because we all know from this virus that the higher percentage of people who are vaccinated, the less chance of transmitting the virus,” he said.

“My appeal would be don’t delay, go and get your jab now. It’s better, not just in care homes, but for everyone in society if more people get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“The implications of this are serious in the sense of the big impact in relation to outbreaks is the impact it has on visiting. I know many families are extremely worried about this.”

Pauline Shepherd, chief executive of Independent Health and Care Providers, said work is being undertaken to encourage staff to have the vaccine.

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