Concerns over the comparatively low percentage of care home staff being vaccinated against coronavirus in Wandsworth persist even as the borough fights to control an outbreak of the highly infectious 'South African' variant of Covid-19.

Approximately 66 per cent of directly employed care home staff in the borough had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Tuesday (April 13), the south west London Clinical Commissioning Group told the Wandsworth Times.

Previous data published earlier this month (April 4) showed Wandsworth with among the lowest percentage of adult care home staff vaccinated of any local authority in the UK.

The data showed Wandsworth had just 60.1 per cent of care home staff receiving a Covid-19 jab as of April 4.

That was the third-lowest figure in the UK, with neighbouring Lambeth ominously the lowest as of that date with a figure of just 51.6 per cent.

The south London boroughs' comparatively low rates of care home staff vaccinations compared unfavourably with Blackpool, for example, which had the highest proportion in England at 91.0 per cent on April 4.

Those figures were be of particular concern after both south boroughs reported numerous cases of the highly infectious South African Covid-19 variant in recent days, prompting a widespread surge testing effort to find and isolate those infections before the variant spreads further.

Responding Thursday (April 15) to a request from the Wandsworth Times, the SW CCG provided updated figures that showed an improvement from the data released last week.

As of April 13, they said, 1,049 directly employed staff (approximately 66 per cent) Wandsworth in care homes have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

A spokesperson for the SW CCG added the following statement:

"While it’s good news that the number of local people being vaccinated is going up, we continue to work closely with local councils, GPs and care homes to provide accurate information and advice to support all eligible care staff to make an informed decision about the vaccination."

In England as a whole, a total of 70.3 per cent of Independent CQC-Registered Domiciliary Care Providers have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine according to NHS data as of April 15.

The figure for other settings including non-registered providers and local authority employed carers was 69.5 per cent.

Meanwhile the SW CCG said that over 90 per cent of care home residents in Wandsworth who are eligible have now received their first vaccination with the programme for second doses "progressing well".

Vaccinating care home staff is considered a priority among health authorities with so of those living in care homes such as the elderly at particular risk of serious infection from Covid-19.

Yesterday (April 14), Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government were considering making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for care home staff.

"Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group," Hancock said.

"Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes, and so save lives.

"The vaccine is already preventing deaths and is our route out of this pandemic. We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to Covid-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe."