Less than half of care home staff working across five north London boroughs have received the Covid-19 vaccine, councillors were told.

A senior medic described the figure as a “real disappointment”, as health chiefs discussed ways to boost uptake among “vaccine-resistant” groups.

Care home residents have been among those worst affected by coronavirus. There have been 120 deaths in Barnet care homes caused by Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to provisional figures published by the Office for National Statistics and Care Quality Commission.

North Central London clinical commissioning group (NCL CCG) recently announced it had delivered first doses of the vaccine to all older people’s care homes in Barnet and the four other boroughs it covers.

But in the week to February 13, Barnet Council was still reporting a “small number of (Covid-19) outbreaks” in care homes.

At a meeting of Barnet’s health overview and scrutiny committee on Monday, Dr Charlotte Benjamin, vice chairman at NCL CCG, said uptake of the jab among NCL care home staff was 48 to 49 per cent, describing it as a “real disappointment”.

“Lots of work is being done,” Dr Benjamin added. “I have done lots of webinars with staff to answer questions and just do a bit of the unblocking as to what people are concerned about.

“I think it’s a rolling stone, and sometimes people who are care home staff might be from communities where very few other people are having (the vaccine) – so them having it is really key.

“We are going to carry on with the encouragement. We are getting there, but it is hard graft. It is often different thoughts about health and preventative health and medicine. It will take time to do, but it is a positive thing to be doing.”

Dr Benjamin was responding to a question from Cllr Alison Moore (Labour, East Finchley), who then asked chief executive of Barnet Hospital Deborah Sanders if they were seeing similar challenges in hospital settings.

“I think we are,” Ms Sanders replied. “We have been working really hard (and having) a lot of the same conversations with our staff – some of whom want to wait.

“We have done a lot of work with our BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) staff network group. We have had lots of sessions, lots of open sessions for staff to raise concerns, we do a weekly question and answer session for staff – and over the last four weeks, the majority of questions have been around the vaccine.

“We are trying to get as much information as we can out to our staff – but we have still got a way to go.”

In a wider discussion of the vaccine roll-out across Barnet, the council’s director of public health, Dr Tamara Djuretic, told the meeting uptake of the jab is currently lower in more deprived areas and among the Black African and Black Caribbean communities.

“We are working in many ways, through Covid champions but as well as through faith leaders, to promote vaccination,” she added.

“Also, there has been vaccination in Hendon Mosque last week. We will be learning from there and maybe want to extend that model to clinics in more deprived areas, faith communities and so on.”

Dr Djuretic said childcare responsibilities and clinics’ operating hours were among the barriers stopping people from getting the jab.

Dr Benjamin confirmed one of the pharmacies offering the jab will trial increased opening hours to reach people who have different working shifts.

She added that the proportion of people saying they will never have a jab is “very small”, with most either open to persuasion or saying they want to wait before having the vaccine.