Care Forum Wales, which represents nearly 500 independent providers, says it’s vitally important to protect vulnerable residents who are particularly at risk because they are mostly elderly and frail with serious underlying health conditions.
The latest figures show that since March 1 last year there have been 1,709 care home resident deaths in Wales with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.
According to chair Mario Kreft MBE, care homes are duty bound to do everything in their power to protect their residents and staff.
It’s believed around 20 per cent of care home staff in Wales have not had a jab yet and Mr Kreft said care home owners and managers were rightly encouraging existing staff to have the vaccine.
But he believed more needed to be done to ensure a higher percentage of staff was vaccinated because it was clear there were some who were reluctant to get the jab.
Mr Kreft said: “I think there are general concerns about this right across Wales. Some homes are doing incredibly well, we’ve heard stories of 100 per cent take up but others are struggling.
“It only takes one person to bring one of the new strains of the virus into vulnerable people.
“I think everybody who works in social care should, unless there's a very good reason otherwise, get the jab and importantly be ready for a culture where we might have to have this each year for some years to come.
“Care Forum was ahead of the curve at the beginning of the pandemic in calling on care homes to lock down long before this was required by the Welsh and UK governments.
“We believe we now need to be proactive again so that we can continue to protect our residents and staff from this deadly virus.
“It is clearly sensible that care homes should be allowed to refuse to recruit anybody who has not been vaccinated.
“It is clear that, quite understandably, the families of residents will want assurances that the staff looking after their loved ones are vaccinated so that they are less likely to be able pass on the infection.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Care Forum Wales Council member Sanjiv Joshi.
He said: ““The science is very clear that the vaccine reduces serious symptoms and the number of deaths.
“Not only are you protecting the residents, but you are also protecting yourself and your family."