NHS vaccination teams have visited every care home across the country to offer life-saving covid boosters and flu jabs ahead of the festive period.
Every care home in England has been visited by NHS staff ensuring residents have maximum protection from winter viruses and allowing them to spend time with families and friends during Christmas and the New Year.
More than 15,000 care homes have been visited by the dedicated, specialist vaccine teams, including any homes which had to have visits rearranged due to covid outbreaks.
Around nine in 10 (88.6%) eligible care home residents have had a covid booster ahead of Christmas and the New Year as a result.
The NHS covid booster campaign kicked off in care homes on 5 September in order to prioritise the most vulnerable before expanding the offer and so far, more than 16.8 million people have had a covid booster.
Anyone who was unable to get their vaccine for any reason is still able to get the booster either through a team returning to a home or via their GP or the National Booking Service.
The NHS is also urging those eligible to get their flu vaccine as the latest stats show hospital admissions are up week-on-week and higher than covid in the most recent week for the first time since the pandemic began – although both are continuing to rise.
NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “While we have seen a resurgence in flu and other winter illnesses this year, there are still around 6,000 patients in hospital with covid and that is why it has been so important that we protect those most vulnerable to the disease with a booster, including people who live in care homes.
“I am delighted that our dedicated NHS staff have been able to go into every care home in England in the last 12 weeks to make sure residents are protected ahead of Christmas, meaning they can spend much needed time with family and friends without the anxiety of spreading covid and its potential consequences.
“It is fantastic that so many residents are already up to date with their jabs and I’d encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible as we head into colder months where we notoriously see increased illness and hospitalisation especially among the elderly”.
NHS director for vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “Care home residents are among those we prioritised at the start of this rollout to make sure our hard-working teams of vaccinators could get to as many care homes and provide protection to as many residents as quickly as possible.
“We have now visited every care home to offer life-saving protection from covid just in time to make sure loved ones can spend time together this Christmas and I would urge anyone eligible but yet to get their jab to book an appointment now”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Once again, NHS staff have stepped up to protect those most at risk from Covid and flu, visiting every care home in every corner of the country to offer lifesaving jabs.
“Our vaccination programme is progressing at pace with nearly 17 million eligible people coming forward for their Covid booster, and more than 19 million flu vaccinations administered to date.
“I want to thank the health and social care staff who’ve come forward for their jab, and I want to encourage those who’ve not yet done so to roll up their sleeves and get the vaccinations they need to give themselves and those they care for the best possible protection this winter”.
Those who are eligible to receive the Covid-19 bivalent vaccine include those aged 50 and over, frontline health and social care workers, and those deemed at risk because, for example, they have either a weakened immune system, a learning disability or are pregnant.
Health and social care workers and unpaid carers are particularly at risk from catching flu and Covid-19 and passing them on to the people they care for so it is vital anyone with a frontline role comes forward to keep those they care for safe.
The latest data also shows flu infections and hospitalisations are on the rise and health leaders are urging those eligible to join the more than 19 million who have received their flu vaccine.
The number of patients with flu in general and acute beds every day last week was at 1,162, up by almost two thirds on the week before (712).
Patients experiencing the most serious illness for flu was also up, with 87 patients in critical care beds – almost 50% higher than the previous week (60).
The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is the fastest and largest in health service history and has delivered more than 143 million vaccines since England became the first country in the world to deliver it outside of a trial.