Official figures today confirm that the NHS has now offered the COVID-19 vaccine to residents at every eligible care home with older residents across England.
In a major milestone for the NHS vaccination programme, nurses, GPs and other NHS staff have offered the life-saving jab to people living at more than 10,000 care homes with older residents.
The small remainder have had their visits deferred by local directors of public health for safety reasons during a local outbreak. Those homes will be visited and jabbed as soon as NHS staff are allowed to do so.
While in a small number of cases a severe outbreak of COVID-19 will have prevented a team from visiting, any care home yet to be visited for a vaccination clinic is going to have one booked in as soon as it is deemed safe by local public health protection clinicians to do so. Vaccination staff are also returning to homes that have been covered to jab any resident who was unable to have it during the previous visit because they had recently had COVID or for other clinical reasons.
The vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history, has got off to a strong start with more than eight million doses administered.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Today marks a crucial milestone in our ongoing race to vaccinate the most vulnerable against this deadly disease.
“We said we would prioritise and protect care home residents, and that is exactly what we have done.
“There will be difficult moments to come, and the number of cases and people in hospital remains dangerously high.
“But vaccines are our route out of the pandemic, and having protected 8.9 million people with a first dose so far, our rollout programme will only accelerate from here on.”
Professor Martin Green OBE and Chief Executive of Care England said: “The delivery of the vaccine to all care homes for older people is a wonderful achievement and one that pays testament to the hard work of care home staff and our colleagues in the NHS and Local Authorities.
“We now look forward to working in partnership to deliver the government’s ambitious programme for administration of the second dose and rolling the programme out to people with learning disabilities living in care homes and supported living settings.”
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive said: “This important milestone in protecting the vulnerable is the result of amazing partnership working between our GPs, community nurses and care homes. And with over 2 million more people vaccinated in communities across England this past week, the NHS’s COVID vaccination campaign is off to a flying start – with nearly nine out of ten people aged 80 and above, and over three quarters of people aged 75 and over, now having had their first jab.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock added: “Our priority has been to protect care home residents throughout this pandemic, and I’m delighted we have reached this monumental milestone to protect the most at risk.
“This achievement to deliver a safe, effective vaccine has only been made possible by the remarkable scientists, our dedicated care home staff and volunteers and our incredible NHS all working together.
“While we celebrate this success, we will never forget the loss of life and my thoughts are with all those who have lost someone close to them.
“We cannot be complacent, and it is absolutely imperative everyone continues to play their part by staying home and protecting the NHS while the rollout continues.”
The Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), who set the priority groups for vaccination, made older adult care home residents and their staff high priority groups due to being at particular risk from COVID-19 because of their age and frailty.
NHS England offered GPs up to £30 extra to vaccinate care home residents in January to cover the increased time and logistics required in bringing the vaccine to care homes.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 250 hospitals, over 1,000 GP-led services, 117 High Street pharmacies and 47 large-scale vaccination centres across the country with more coming online over the coming days and weeks.
The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan received the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry Hospital on the 8 December 2020.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, was jabbed on 4 January 2021.
Ian Turner, Executive Chair of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said: “On behalf of all the residents of older people’s care home, their families and those who have continued to provide care and support to them during the pandemic, I would like to express their heart felt gratitude to all those involved in the vaccination programme.
“From the scientists and researchers, those who participated and managed the trials, to the regulators and manufacturers of the vaccine through to the whole NHS vaccination teams wherever they may be working, we want to thank them for their extraordinary work over the past months.
“As Mahatma Ghandi said “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable” and the pandemic has brought that quotation to the fore.”
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