AS the Government gets set to announce mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for care home workers, new figures reveal how many have already received the jab.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is known to be in favour of the mandatory vaccination move, while England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said doctors and care workers have a “professional responsibility” to protect their patients.

Ministers will make the announcement in the coming days, following a consultation into using staff vaccination in England to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19.

Consultations will also begin on whether other health and care workers should also have the jabs.

The move comes after concerns that some parts of the country, such as London, have particularly low uptake of vaccines for care home staff.

Today, new figures have been released showing the proportion of eligible staff in older adult care homes in England who have received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Staff are eligible to receive the vaccine if they have not had Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.

The list reveals Somerset is doing slightly better than the national average of 84%, reporting 86% of eligible care home staff in the county, having receive at least one dose.

Topping the list is Blackpool with 93.7% of care home staff at least partially vaccinated against the virus while at the bottom, Hackney stands at just 66.7% having received a dose.

The figures, published by NHS England cover vaccinations up to June 6.

Overall NHS figures to June 6 show that 84% of staff in older adult care homes in England have had one dose of vaccine, and almost 69% have had both jabs.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.

“Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the Government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a Covid-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption.”

The decision, first reported by the Guardian, is controversial, with the GMB union saying that more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations become compulsory.

GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: “Carers have been at the forefront of this pandemic, risking their lives to keep our loved ones safe, often enduring almost Victorian working standards in the process.

“The Government could do a lot to help them: address their pay, terms and conditions, increasing the rate of and access to contractual sick pay, banning zero hours, and ensuring more mobile NHS vaccination teams so those working night shifts can get the jab.

“Instead, ministers are ploughing ahead with plans to strongarm care workers into taking the vaccine without taking seriously the massive blocks these workers still face in getting jabbed.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said of the Government’s decision: “The only way out of the pandemic is for everyone that can to have their jabs.

“Research shows encouragement achieves better results with the nervous than threats or coercion.

“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.”

But the director of public health for Gateshead, Alice Wiseman, told Times Radio she is in favour, saying: “This is a really difficult decision because nobody ever wants to take away an individual’s right to have that choice.

“But we do make some vaccines mandatory in other aspects of healthcare. So, for example, we ensure all surgeons have their Hep B vaccination, and it’s really important that we do this where we’re protecting those people who we are caring for.

“And certainly, if I had my mum in a care home, I would want to know that the staff around them were fully protected and able to provide my mum with the best care that she could have.

“So, whilst I appreciate that it’s very difficult as a decision, I am grateful that we are looking at that.”

The UK’s human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has however concluded it is “reasonable” to legally require care home staff to be vaccinated.

But it did advise that safeguards should be included to minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions including for staff who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.