A Covid vaccine has been offered to all care home residents in England - what happens next?
NHS England confirmed that people living at more than 10,000 care homes with older residents have been offered the jab, marking a landmark achievement in the mass vaccination programme.
While 10,000 care homes with older residents have now been offered vaccines, NHS England said a “small remainder” of homes had been deferred by local public health directors for safety reasons during local outbreaks.
These homes will be visited by vaccinators as soon as it is safe for NHS staff to do so.
Staff are also returning to homes to deliver vaccines to any residents who were unable to have it on the previous visit for clinical reasons.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed the achievement as a “crucial milestone” in the effort to vaccinate the most vulnerable against coronavirus, and said the rollout will continue to accelerate from here.
The government has set a target of vaccinating all care home residents and carers, people aged over 70 and frontline health and care workers by 15 February.
On Saturday (30 January), a record 598,389 first jabs were given across the UK, meaning almost nine million people have now received their first dose of the vaccine, while around 490,000 have received two doses.
Mr 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.”
Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, said while it was “great” that the milestone had been, she expressed concerns that the staff vaccination rollout “has not been nearly so effective”.
She said: “The most pressing question now is how and when can care homes restart safe, meaningful visits.
“Combined with PPE and testing, isn’t one jab enough? If not, what else needs to be in place? Another 12-week wait is unacceptable for people dying of loneliness.
“We need a swifter rollout of the second jab, as well as ensuring all staff receive it. At least 70 per cent of care home residents have dementia, and they are losing their connection to the world, fading away. We must now see a concrete plan in place to reunite families.”
What is happening next?
By mid-February, the government aims to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to 15 million people. These include those aged 70 and over, healthcare workers and people required to shield.
By April, it is hoped that millions more people aged 50 and over, plus other priority groups, will have been offered the vaccine.
The rollout to the rest of the UK adult population will then follow, with the target of everyone receiving their first dose by autumn.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 250 hospitals, 1,000 GP-led services, 117 high street pharmacies and 47 large-scale vaccination centres across the country.