Scottish Care to launch communications campaign to encourage workforce to get vaccinated

A communications campaign is being developed to encourage care home staff to have the coronavirus vaccine when it is offered to them.

Scottish Care, which represents the independent care home sector, said a minority of staff have expressed concern about receiving the vaccine.

The industry body is now working with public health officials to create an FAQ document and stage online sessions where staff can ask questions.

Karen Hedge, Scottish Care’s deputy director, told the PA news agency the Pfizer vaccine will be going into an initial 14 care homes next week.

Regulations around the vaccine, which must be stored at minus 70C before being thawed out, mean care home staff cannot administer it themselves and need NHS staff to perform the procedure.

Ms Hedge (pictured) said: “In terms of care home staff who might not decide to have the vaccine, it’s a fundamental human right to have that choice not to take it.

“But where we are hearing people don’t want to get the vaccine, it’s because they’re unsure or unclear about the side effects.

“To counteract that, we’re working with the Scottish Government to develop some communications that provide more reassurance and information on those side effects and implications of taking the vaccine.”

There will also be a social media campaign where social care staff write “heartfelt” letters setting out the importance of the vaccine, she said.

While the majority of care home staff are keen to take the Pfizer jab, she said, some have expressed reservations.

At Scottish Care’s weekly surgery session for care home managers, only two or three out of more than 100 said staff are reluctant.

Ms Hedge said: “I have heard in the majority people are looking forward to getting the vaccine.

“Many social care staff have been close to the devastating effects of Covid.

“They’ve lived alongside many people suffering and people dying of Covid. They’ve lost colleagues as well.”

Decisions around which care homes receive the vaccine first are “complex”, she said, as much depends on whether staff are able to take time out for the procedure or whether a current outbreak restricts external visitors.

Individual NHS boards will put plans in place for the delivery of the vaccine to care homes.

While lateral flow testing devices have been delivered to many homes for the testing of visitors, Ms Hedge said, pilot schemes in England showed operating this service is taking up considerable staff time.

She said: “There’s financial support available from the Scottish Government to fund that, and that’s definitely welcomed by the sector, but the reality is that there might just not be the bodies on the ground given the sector already has a significant staffing shortage.”

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