COVID-19 booster vaccines have been delivered or booked in at every older adult care home in England where safe to do so, the NHS announced today.
In just over six weeks since the rollout began, over 9,700 care homes have already been visited – almost nine in 10 – and a further 1,100 homes have scheduled visits in the coming days and weeks.
The NHS is now continuing to ensure all residents are offered their lifesaving booster jab with work underway to maximise access to their jab.
GPs and their teams have been visiting care homes every day since the booster rollout began just over six weeks ago. More than four in five eligible residents (81.7%) have now had their top-up jab.
Some care homes cannot be visited at this time due to norovirus or COVID-19 outbreaks but dates have been agreed for visits at a safe time for residents.
More than seven million people have now received their top-up protection since the NHS rolled out a booster within 48 hours of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommendation on 14 September.
Last week the NHS saw another record week of top-up jabs, with 1.6 million boosters administered.
In total, over 87 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.
The NHS has made it easier than ever for people to get their top up protection before winter with hundreds of sites now offering walk in clinics for boosters for eligible groups.
There are more clinics delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme – almost every person registered with a GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination site.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for the NHS Vaccination Programme, said: “Within 48 hours of getting the green light to roll out boosters, the NHS began delivering top-up vaccines to care home residents, ensuring that some of the most vulnerable to coronavirus got extra protection as quickly as possible.
“Thanks to NHS staff, who have worked flat out, the NHS has now offered every eligible care home a booster and will continue to offer vaccines to additional residents as they become eligible.
“This winter will be different with the risk of flu and COVID and so getting your booster vaccine as soon as you become eligible is the best way to ensure you are protected – it’s easier than ever to get a booster, with details of walk-in clinics available on the NHS website, and you can also book an appointment online or by calling 119”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our life-saving booster programme is prioritising those who need it most and we are making it as easy as possible for everyone who is eligible to get boosted.
“It’s brilliant that every eligible care home in England has now been offered boosters if they haven’t already been visited.
“Together we are building our wall of defence across the country. As we head into winter it is important that everyone comes forward to get their jab or booster”.
Anyone eligible for a booster who received their second dose more than 190 days ago can book a top-up jab online through the National Booking Service or call 119 if they need extra support with their booking.
The NHS has also visited thousands of schools since rolling out the jab to 12 to 15-year-olds at the end of September – just a week after updated guidance from the government.
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: “As we approach the colder months, it is vital all those eligible have their booster jab to maintain the protection of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations.
“It is great news that we have now offered every care home in England the chance to book in their booster jab and I encourage all residents and staff to take up the offer and join the more than 9 million already boosted”.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association, said: “The vaccination campaign has given us a marked advantage in the fight against the virus and we are delighted that the vaccine boosters are now readily available in care home settings. This enables us to continue to support and protect the most vulnerable members of our society in the best way we can.
“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the NHS to support them and those we care for to access the vaccine as quickly as possible. The fact that it will be available in care services will enable us to maximise on the take up”.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, said: “Offering a booster to care home residents, and indeed staff, will ensure people living and working in care homes can have the extra protection the booster gives as we head into winter. We support efforts being made by the NHS and the care homes themselves in making access to the boosters as easy as possible”.
Ian Turner, Chair of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said: The partnership working between the NHS and care homes has been significantly increased throughout the pandemic, and the programme of offering a booster vaccination is the latest example of that partnership.
“Nursing and residential homes are dedicated to provide a safe and effective care to those vulnerable people who we care for and this booster vaccination has added another level of protection to our residents.
“Care homes will continue to ensure that any protections offered to their residents will be utilised to the full to ensure that residents receive safe and effective care in the future”.
Melanie Weatherley MBE, Co-chair of the Care Association Alliance, said: “It is great to hear that care home residents have all been offered a COVID booster jab thanks to hard work by GPs and the care home managers who are facilitating the visits.
“The vaccination delivery in care homes is an example of what can be achieved when health and care staff work together, and we will continue to work together to ensure that staff also take up the offer to boost their levels of protection”.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of National Care Forum, said: “We welcome the continued prioritisation of care home residents and staff within the COVID-19 vaccination programme. The positive roll out programme has only been possible through strong partnership between care homes and local health services.
“We are all acutely aware of how important vaccination is and care home managers have shown real leadership to ensure the programme of in home visits has maximised take up for both staff and residents”.
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 programme 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”.