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Official figures later today are expected to 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.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s primary care director, as a practising GP has also been personally delivering vaccines to care home residents and staff, said: “I want to thank my colleagues, and everyone involved in the vaccine rollout for their extraordinary work in recent weeks, as it is because of their tireless efforts that millions of people have already been vaccinated, including hundreds of thousands of care home residents, and as a result we are a vital step further in our fight against COVID-19.
“It has been a privilege to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable people and the wonderful people who look after them. Many have had little contact with the outside world throughout the pandemic and so it has been truly humbling for all, giving them hope and importantly protection against the disease.”
“I would urge anyone who is offered the vaccine to come forward.”
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 said: “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.”
Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum said: “This is an amazing outcome – and a clear example of care and health working together to achieve the best for the most vulnerable members of society. It is partnership that has got us to this place, with everyone doubling down to get the job done. It is a testament to both the care homes who have managed to ensure all available residents and staff were supported to receive the vaccine and the fantastic team of NHS community health colleagues who delivered in record time.”
Andrew Knight, Chief Executive of Care UK said: “We are delighted with the progress of the vaccination programme and the teamwork that has ensured that almost all of our residents have now been offered their first vaccination.
“The majority of our colleagues have also now been vaccinated and colleagues and residents are now looking forward to receiving their second vaccination.
“Thank you to all of those involved in this incredibly fast programme of successfully providing vaccinations that will provide protection for our residents and colleagues in our homes. This is a major step forward in our fight against the virus.”
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association said: “This has been a great achievement under extreme and challenging circumstances. The common purpose to combat this virus has driven colleagues in the NHS, primary care, DHSC and the provider sector to overcome ‘bumps in the road’ and enable those in care homes, who were able to have the vaccine, to receive it.
“With each jab given we are a step closer to the new normality we are striving for in our services and the sector as a whole. With this foundation we hope to be able to ensure that our workforce and the entire social care sector, in its varied and complex settings will also receive the vaccine soon and so be protected from this virus.”
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of national older people’s charity Independent Age said: “This is an important moment to celebrate the delivery of the first vaccination to the majority of people living in care homes who have been so badly impacted through this pandemic.
“Clearly there is more to do including delivery of the second dose to deepen protection and to ensure as many care staff as possible are also vaccinated. But this must begin to give us all hope that there will finally be a significant decrease in the terrible death toll we have seen to date. Thank you and congratulations to the amazing NHS England and wider team leading this important programme.”
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “This is a fantastic achievement and I pay tribute to all our health and social care staff and providers who work so hard every single day and have been essential in the roll out of our life-saving vaccines.
“This pandemic is so cruel to older people and rightly those whose lives are most at risk are receiving the vaccine first. I know that care staff have gone the extra mile to support the vaccine process and get the first jab to their residents so quickly.
“My thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one and I hope and believe vaccination is the way out of the pandemic and the way we will be able to bring families back together.
“Our world-leading vaccination programme will continue at pace making sure we offer the first dose to the top four priority groups – including health and social care staff – by mid-February.”
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.”