NEARLY 100 fewer people are working in the Isle of Wight's care homes now than when mandatory Covid vaccines were announced for the sector, figures suggest.

Rules set by the government last year stated care workers in England needed to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by September 16 to continue working, and two doses by November 11.

The move was in response to the high number of deaths in the care sector during the pandemic but was widely criticised, among fears of an exodus of care staff.

NHS England data shows 2,306 people were working in older adult care homes across the Isle of Wight on January 2 – the most recent date for which figures are available.

This was 87 fewer than the 2,393 recorded on July 18 – days before a 16-week “grace period” for care workers to get their first jab started.

Across England, the number of staff in older adult care homes dropped by 17,000 over the same period.

It is unclear how many workers left as a result of the mandatory vaccine policy.

However, not all care staff have two jabs, for a few reasons.

The NHS data shows 2,168 workers at older adult care homes on the Isle of Wight had received two Covid jabs by January 2 – 94 per cent of staff, and up from 1,950 on July 18.

The Department for Health and Social Care said new starters can work in care homes 21 days after receiving one dose of the vaccine and are required to get a second jab within ten weeks.

Others not fully vaccinated may consist of those on maternity leave, long term sickness or otherwise not currently deployed.

On the Island, there are 62 patients in St Mary's Hospital (as of January 13), who are medically fit to leave but have no care in place to be safely discharged, causing congestion on the wards.

Speaking at the IW NHS Trust board meeting last week, chief operating officer Joe Smyth said he could not see how the patients could be moved out of hospital unless additional care capacity is created.