If you had said to me when I was a bright young thing on the precipice of careerhood, many years ago now, that one day I would have a job where I would be forced to take away people’s livelihoods if they refused to have two needles stuck in their arm – I would confidently have told you that was no job for me.
In fact I would have proclaimed loudly people’s rights not to have an enforced invasive procedure.
I probably would have joined some protest march or other and certainly would have written to my MP. Probably in purple felt tip because that is the sort of irritating agitator I was back then when I had energy and the fizzy motivation of youth.
I suspect I would have come up with a catchy anti-establishment slogan and emblazoned it on a tee shirt (and then probably sold a few knock-offs, I always had an eye for an entrepreneurial opportunity).
Funny how contexts can change things.
We learned last week that the new vaccination legislation for care homes currently applies to the entire building within which the home is located.
Even if there is no crossover of footfall, there is a separate entrance and double coded doors between premises.
The logistics of this are huge – we are now talking 190 staff needing to be vaccinated as they come into the main part of the Bradbury Centre, rather than the 58 staff just in Oaks and Acorns.
This also covers all visitors, contractors, parcel delivery people and Postie-the-Post-Person.
Only Winston escapes on account of having four paws, he gets away with Parvovirus and Kennel Cough.
Fortunately, we started early with our messaging across the entire staffing cohort – which was good in that we now only have a very few who would choose to opt out.
I’m not even going to go into the medical exemptions. The guidance for this has not yet been written – we are referred to annexe 14a of the COVID-19 Green Book which lists the contra-indications.
Oh look at me – I am going into it now but I have started so I will finish.
Green Book annexe 14a basically informs us that, something like the witch ‘swimming’ tests of c1600, if someone has had a life threatening reaction (anaphylaxis) to dose one (or a constituent part of the COVID 19 vaccine) then they are exempted from dose 2.
Which they probably would be of course had dose one killed them.
The ultimate exemption.
And there is no other further guidance so I believe that, currently, only three exemptions have been awarded in the whole of Southampton, a city of some 200k people.
Once the GP guidance comes out this may change a little, one would hope it might recognise complex immune-responses such as those in Lupus – but the law marches on despite the lack of guidance.
Which is a problem.
And so back to the story…..
I have no choice.
To be legally compliant no-one may cross our threshold after November 11th without having either that magical letter of exemption from their GP (I will accept a certificated Hen’s Tooth), OR a COVID vaccination pass covering both doses.
So dose one has to have happened by Sept 16th, as there have to be eight weeks between doses.
So I have had to push, persuade, cajole and encourage staff to uptake the vaccine by then because if not then they have to leave.
And if they don’t go willingly then they will have to be pushed legally and through a disciplinary process.
And, of course, I do support the vaccine.
I believe in the science, I believe this is right.
I believe that, even if the transmission rate hasn’t reduced as much as we had hoped, the severity is clearly less and that is what matters.
Vaccines save more lives and that is the ultimate test. The final test.
Vaccines mean that more of our precious Rose Road children and young people will live and more of our staff team who mean so much to me and to our families will live. And more of our own families and friends will live and not die from this horrendous virus that has already taken so much from us.
So I choose life.
And it is my job and my responsibility and my burden to help our team to choose life for themselves and for those that they care for.
Even though every fibre of my being resents the approach I have to take with those few professionals who are currently choosing not to be vaccinated.
My heart burns with the injustice of facing these experienced, hard working, caring, passionate people with a choice between a vaccine or a livelihood.
And my heart cries every time one of these good people, with genuine and honest reservations, puts their career and the people they care for first and books their vaccination. My mouth may smile and offer thanks – but I am crying inside. This is not easy for them, at the root of this is fear and they are afraid.
I choose life.
And so does every other care home manager currently facing exactly the same predicament.
Think of them when you read this.