ABOUT one in six care workers in Brighton and Hove are yet to receive a Covid jab – as vaccinations are to be made compulsory for all staff.

Care home staff will be given 16 weeks to get fully vaccinated from the time new legislation is approved by parliament, health secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

He said the move, set to take effect from October, was aimed at protecting the most vulnerable from the virus and would cover all workers employed by a care home provider.

NHS figures show that out of 2,276 eligible staff, including agency workers at older adult care homes in Brighton and Hove, 367 had not received a first dose by June 13 - which is 16 per cent of all those eligible for the vaccine.

That proportion has fallen slightly since April, shortly after plans for mandatory vaccinations first emerged, when 22 per cent of care workers in the city were unvaccinated.

The figure for Brighton is slightly higher than the proportion of unvaccinated care staff across the South East, at 15 per cent, while nationally, the proportion unvaccinated is also 16 per cent.

Vaccine hesitancy among care staff in some areas of England has prompted the decision by the government, according to social care experts within the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

Back in April a five-week consultation on the proposal was launched by the Department of Health and Social Care.

It has seen the idea extended to cover not only care homes for older people, but all Care Quality Commission-registered care homes providing nursing and personal care.

Making the announcement on Wednesday, Mr Hancock said: “Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated, we need to do everything we can to keep reducing the risk.”

But concerns have been raised by leaders in the care sector that such a “oppressive” approach would lead to staff shortages.

Nadra Ahmed, chief executive of the National Care Association, which represent care providers, said: "I don't know why the government can't carry on persuading people to have the vaccine rather than creating a legislative pathway which is so oppressive.

"The social care sector already has 112,000 vacancies and we now at risk of being left with more as some overworked, stressed and already anxious care workers have had enough."

Meanwhile, Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The government’s sledgehammer approach now runs the risk that some care staff may simply walk away from an already understaffed, undervalued and underpaid sector.”

Research published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found black African and mixed black African staff were twice as likely to decline a vaccination as white British and white Irish workers.

Reasons included concerns about a lack of research and distrust in the vaccine, healthcare providers, and policy makers.