Covid-19: ‘I quit my NHS job because I don’t want the jab’
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Health workers have got one week left to have their first Covid vaccination or they face being sacked or redeployed. NHS staff must have their first jab by 3 February and be fully vaccinated by 1 April to continue in their roles, the government has said.

But up to 80,000 are not currently vaccinated – making up around 10% of staff at some hospitals and GP surgeries – according to the Royal College of GPs, which is concerned about the consequences for the NHS if they are removed from the front line.

At a rally held in Norwich, the BBC spoke to NHS staff about the mandatory vaccination policy.

‘I took control of the situation and resigned’

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Joe Stanton was employed by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust as a charge nurse and had worked within acute mental health services for 21 years.

He resigned his position with the trust in October.

“The deciding factor for leaving my position was the clear path being paved by the government towards mandatory vaccinations for all NHS staff,” he said.

“I had to decide whether I would wait and see if these mandates were enforced, or just take control of situation and resign, so I chose the latter option.

“At the beginning of this pandemic, the government were encouraging all NHS staff and care workers to be hailed as heroes.

“Two years on, those who worked through the most difficult days of this pandemic are now facing the threat of financial loss by choosing bodily sovereignty over taking an experimental medical procedure which has clear risks associated with it.

“There is no long-term data on delayed side-effects and it has now been shown to have no efficacy against infection or transmission of the Covid-19 illness.”

According to Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia and an expert in infectious diseases, the “vaccine is effective against both infection and transmission but of course is not 100% effective”.

“It’s not an experimental procedure because it has been through all the trials needed for a vaccine to be available to the general public,” he added.

“Very few vaccinologists expect there to be any significant or indeed any long-term side effects”.

‘It’s the first time I’ve ever had the sack’

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Mariana Visan and Roger Stevens are dentists working in Norwich. Both say they have been notified that they face losing their jobs over their vaccination status.

Ms Visan said it could have a serious impact on patients already struggling to access NHS dental care.

“If there are no dentists, there are no people to treat the patient so the patients will remain without dentists. And nurses as well,” she said.

“There is already a crisis of NHS dentists and nurses. The lists taking new patients are closed and this will be even worse on 1 April.

“All the dentists who are not vaccinated will leave and all the patients who cannot find a dentist will be in an even worse situation. No-one will take you so you’ll just be in pain and have to deal with it.”

Mr Stevens, who has been a dentist for more than 50 years, said his contract would be discontinued.

“Simple as that – I’ll just not be expected to go in. It’s the first time I’ve ever had the sack. So it’s nice to have yet another experience in life, I guess,” he said.

“I feel that the NHS has gone way beyond its ethical standards. Quite remarkable. It’s very sad.”

The British Dental Association, which represents dentists, said mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers would have a “calamitous impact on dental services”.

In its guidance, the General Dental Council, which is the statutory regulator of the dental sector, said it would “encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated”.

‘I don’t believe it’s a necessary thing to do’

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A nurse who works for the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Ipswich and Colchester’s main hospitals, did not want to be identified, but explained her reasons for holding out against the Covid jab.

“It takes away our herd immunity. There’s also new evidence that shows that vaccinated people are having higher transmission rates,” she said.

“I don’t believe that the injured are being listened to properly and it’s taking away our body autonomy.

“I’m very worried because it’s whether I stay in nursing or not. I have devoted many years of my life to nursing already.”

Dr Paul Hunter refuted her claims, saying herd immunity, where the term is defined as the indirect protection of a non-immune individual, does not occur for coronaviruses from either vaccine or infection.

“This is because after vaccination or infection, immunity to infection wanes over some months to the point that people can become infectious again,” he said.

“I’ve heard that [the claim vaccinated people have higher transmission rates] and I’ve tried to find the evidence behind that and so far I’ve not been able to find that, so I think that is extremely unlikely.

“Vaccines have a small degree of risk. But the vast majority of those side effects recover fairly quickly and pale into insignificance at the risk of death and severe disease from Covid.”

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