COVID booster jabs have been delivered or booked in at almost nine in 10 care homes as the NHS vaccination programme accelerates ahead of winter.
Around 6,000 care homes have already been visited while a further 3,700 homes have visits scheduled within the coming days and weeks, as part of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The new figures also show that residents in over half of care homes have received a booster jab.
With almost 90% of homes either visited or with visits booked, local GP teams are working to make sure that the remaining care homes can book their vaccine clinic as soon as possible, as the NHS rollout intensifies ahead of winter.
Some homes can’t be visited at this time due to norovirus or COVID outbreaks but dates are being agreed for visits at a safe time for residents.
More than four million eligible people have had their top up vaccine since the campaign began just over four weeks ago.
Every care home is expected to have offered a COID-19 booster to all eligible residents by the beginning of November.
The NHS is vaccinating in line with guidance set by the JCVI which says that eligible groups can have a booster shot, a minimum of six months on from their second jab for maximum protection.
Almost 84 million vaccines have already been delivered and nine in 10 adults have had their first dose since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, in December 2020.
The vaccination rollout, the biggest and fastest in NHS history, has ensured 38 million people across England have had both doses of the jab.
There are more clinics delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, despite some mass vaccination centres such as sports grounds returning to business as usual following the easing of restrictions.
These have been replaced by more convenient local sites, such as high-street pharmacies and GP surgeries.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, said: “NHS staff are working flat out to vaccinate eligible groups ahead of winter – it is testament to them that just four weeks after we kicked off the booster rollout that we have already provided well over four million boosters to eligible people.
“Not only that but local general practice teams are going out to protect the most vulnerable – almost 90% of care homes have either already been visited or have a visit booked in for the coming days and weeks.
“The booster is not simply a nice to have – it will provide important extra protection as we go into the winter period. So if you have been invited or a family or friend has been invited – please do come forward”.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “It’s fantastic that the vast majority of care home residents have had or have a visit booked to receive their booster jab.
“I’m grateful to the NHS for rolling out these jabs so quickly, and for the continued dedication of the social care workforce. Their tireless efforts are helping us build a wall of defence across the country.
“As winter approaches, we are in a race between the virus and the vaccine so I urge anyone eligible to book their booster vaccine – let’s all pull together now so we can continue protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our NHS. It is clear that vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes”.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “It’s extremely important that everyone living or working in a care home gets their COVID booster jab as soon as it’s due so it is good to hear that the roll out of it seems to be gathering speed. This will not only help to prevent a recurrence of the toll of death and serious illness we saw earlier in the pandemic, it will also give care home managers the confidence to keep visiting going, which is so vital for the well-being of older people.
“it’s imperative that boosters are rolled out to every care home as a top priority. The extra immunity older people receive from their third jab will be key to keeping them safe and well this winter, and the virus at bay”.
Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, said: “People living in care homes can be particularly vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, and because of this, we know that many have been cut off from their loved ones for too long. It is essential that care home residents are not forgotten and given the protection they need to go on living their lives and seeing the people they care about. We welcome the rollout of the booster programe which we hope will ensure older care home residents benefit from the booster jab. We hope those living in care homes will get vaccinated and have the booster jab if they can, to help protect themselves and those around them”.
The NHS booster vaccine rollout is also well underway with more than four million people already receiving the important top up jab ahead of winter in just four weeks since the JCVI updated its guidance.
The NHS will contact you to offer you a booster vaccine if you are eligible and it has been at least six months (182 days) since the date of your second vaccine dose. Anyone receiving an invite should come forward as soon as possible to get crucial protection.
If it has been longer than six months and one week since you had your second vaccine dose and you are eligible but haven’t been contacted, please try to book your appointment on www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or if you can’t use the website, by calling 119.
The NHS is also inviting parents to book their children aged 12-15 in for a single dose of the vaccine after expanding the National Booking Service to allow young people to attend vaccination centres.
Parents will be able to book in their children from the end of today as half-term begins, providing an additional option alongside the schools programme, which has jabbed half a million young people already.