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04th May 2021

Vaccination of Staff – The Human Side

Dried Up Shifts

I’m reading an article about a care worker whose shifts dried up when they declined the COVID-19 vaccine.

I’m overwhelmed by the human element to this story. The sense they lost friends and work - even after being there throughout the pandemic.

Dignity and Respect

I start to think of the policies we write about choice and control and consent for service users. How we treat people with dignity and respect even when decision-making is not wise, or in line with what we would expect.

I have seen how tensions against the opposite viewpoint (whichever side you fall on) have spilled over...after all, this could be life or death right?

So how do we approach vaccination with staff who do not wish to be vaccinated?

What’s their story? Active listening
Fear is a powerful thing. It may be linked to something real that has happened, or something not. To have a conversation with an employee and ask them if they want to talk about their concerns without prejudice can be helpful in both understanding, and valuing the individual.

Not everyone will give you their view, but by listening without preconception, you will be able to offer information that meets their needs.

Needle Phobia - Yes, this is me
I am needle phobic - yes that’s right. I have passed out more times than I care to mention. I have no problem with pain, but I feel ‘strange’ about needles and things entering the blood stream.

I used to refuse blood to be taken, or injections until I got a routine. Emla cream, laying down, a bottle of water to sip, telling the person I may faint, not looking and talking 9 to the dozen.

Anti-Vaccination? Ask some questions
We presume everyone who does not take the vaccine is ‘anti-vaccine’, what does that even mean? People may have religious beliefs, dietary concerns, phobias or just not enough information.

We don’t always have it, but time enables people to make informed choices, the fight or flight reaction can settle and a different outcome is possible.

So what about those that do not take up the vaccine?
You must assess the risk and make decisions based on evidence and ensure you are acting lawfully without discrimination.

Whatever the outcome, it is important to;

  • Recognise staff members' contribution to the service
  • Ensure kindness, dignity and respect is given whatever the viewpoint on the vaccine, the support they need to understand the decisions you may need to make

Information on Needle Phobia and Tips for getting the COVID Vaccine can be found on the Anxiety UK website.

Information on side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine should be taken from reputable sources such as the NHS.

Information on combatting COVID-19 misinformation in the media can be found on the OFCOM website.

Information on allergy, dietary practice and religious practice in relation to the AstraZeneca Vaccine can be found on Specialist Pharmacy Services.

NB please signpost staff to their medical provider for information specific to their medical history.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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