As an open and supportive employer, Orchard Care Homes is providing accurate, independent, medical information about vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus to all its staff.

The information is being made available via a series of Teams webinars run by Dr Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor at University of Leeds School of Medicine. All Orchard staff have received an invite to attend.

Rebecca Dobson, Orchard’s Director of People and Talent, met one of Dr Griffin’s associates at a Care England event and was put in touch with him to have a conversation about the potential for the webinars, focusing on the COVID-19 virus, its impact and the development and effects of the vaccination programme.

“We are encouraging all colleagues to have their COVID-19 vaccinations and by providing independent information, we are ensuring that all our staff have the opportunity to make an informed choice that is right for them. We’re delighted to be able to provide these sessions with Dr Griffin for our colleagues. They have been hugely informative and relatable, providing factual information and dispelling many of the myths and inaccuracies that have been circulated, particularly on social media, in regard to the vaccinations”, said Rebecca.

Dr Griffin addressed many questions, with the most common being “is the vaccine safe as it was produced so quickly?

He explained that the vaccine already uses established technology so that legislation and administration was significantly reduced and red tape was removed, allowing them to be prioritised and approved in rapid time.  He added that the trials were designed to make faster testing and development possible and it was not limited to the number of patients, which is normally a constraint.  The Phase 3 trials had upwards of 40,000 people in, meaning rarer side effects could be spotted and all of this allowed for quick development and analysis, making the vaccines extremely well characterised and accurate for safety and efficacy.

Dr Griffin commented, “By supporting Orchard Care Homes with these webinars, I was able to talk to colleagues throughout the business, addressing any questions that they had and providing information on how the vaccines have been developed, biology and the role vaccines play in programming our immune systems. The misinformation that has been spread across social media is incredibly frustrating to myself and my scientific colleagues, and hopefully these sessions have gone some way to putting minds at ease and making people think more about having their vaccination.”

Rebecca continued, “It would be incredibly sad should we have any staff losses as a result of the implementation of the requirement for all colleagues to have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination with effect from 11th November by government, as we would lose highly experienced and skilled people who have been with us for many years and care deeply about our residents.”

To date 79% of Orchard’s staff have had their first vaccination dose and 75% their second. While some of the remaining staff will be covered by a medical exemption, Orchard is working hard to mitigate any potential impact to the workforce and encourage those with a passion to care for others to start their career in care with the organisation.