Concerns about some frontline ambulance staff refusing Covid vaccine
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Concerns have been raised that some frontline ambulance staff in Wales are refusing to be vaccinated against the Covid-19.
It comes despite more than 2,900 medics from the Welsh Ambulance Service receiving their first vaccine dose, representing 70 per cent of the total workforce.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething revealed last week that all paramedics and emergency medical technicians had been offered the chance to have the jab.
He said it represented a “key marker” on the way to giving everyone in the top four priority groups in Wales the opportunity to be immunised against the deadly virus.
However, questions have been raised over whether some staff are turning it down and putting the public at risk during a meeting of the NHS trust which oversees the service yesterday (Thursday, 28 January).
Non-executive director Martin Turner said: “I just wanted to ask, have we got staff who are refusing the vaccination, particularly frontline staff, because I understand it is a voluntary position that staff can decide to take it or not.
“My concern is that because they’re frontline staff, and they may be refusing the vaccination, is it posing a risk to the community that we serve if our staff decide not to get vaccinated?”
The service’s chief executive Jason Killens acknowledged it was not compulsory for staff to have the vaccine, but said they were being “actively encouraged” with enough supplies in place.
Director of workforce and organisational development Claire Vaughan confirmed some medics had expressed reluctance to have the jab, but numbers were not being recorded. She added that the trust was actively working to quell their fears.
She said: “What we are doing is promoting and providing information to our staff to encourage them to take up the opportunity of having their first dose as quickly as possible.
“Our discussions with our trade union partners have been really helpful around this in pointing us to some of the concerns that are coming from our staff and some of the myths that need busting.
“There are some concerns and hesitancies around the Covid vaccine, so we are working as a team and with occupational health now to get some further advice out there just to reassure people around the risks.
“We are at 70 per cent today and we’re going up steadily every single day.
“If there are people out there who are choosing to not have the vaccine at this time, we have asked them to make us aware so that we know and we can support them.”
Efforts to encourage workers to have the vaccine are set to continue after the trust’s chair Martin Woodford asked for a close eye to be kept on the situation.