It has been revealed that residents at every eligible care home in the UK have now been offered or have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose. This marks a significant achievement for the nation, with officials expected to confirm the data later today.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said, "Today marks a crucial milestone in our ongoing race to vaccinate the most vulnerable against this deadly disease."
In a recent statement, officials from NHS England reported that over 10,000 care homes housing older people had been offered vaccinations. Saturday’s record 598,389 vaccinations bring the total number of people receiving their first jab up to nearly nine million. Close to half a million people have now had both their first and second jabs.
Government trying to educate care homes about vaccine
According to Social Care Minister Helen Whately, vaccination teams could not visit some care homes due to local outbreaks. Whately confirmed NHS teams would visit these homes as soon as it was safe, to give jabs to residents. In a recent radio interview, Whately also encouraged any care homes still waiting on vaccinations to contact her so she can follow the matter up personally.
Some concerns were raised about care home staff refusing to have the jab because of worries or personal preferences. Whately said the government was trying to ‘educate and encourage’ those who were unsure about having the vaccination to try and reassure them.
Some people were eager to know if second doses would be prioritised for care home residents, enabling them to start receiving visits from loved ones and help combat loneliness. It was confirmed that while the majority of care home residents had now received their first dose of the vaccine, there were no plans to rush the second dose through.
Whately did say the government was working on ways that would enable people to visit care home residents. However, she added that it was too soon to allow this because of the time it takes for immunity to build up following the first dose.
A tough road ahead
While thrilled at the data, the PM was also quick to point out that while the vaccination rollout was a vital ‘route out of the pandemic’, there was still a very long and tough road ahead. He described the infection, hospitalisation, and death rates across the UK as being at dangerous levels.
Care home residents are among the most vulnerable groups to be earmarked for vaccinations before 15th February. Other priority groups include those over the age of 70, clinically vulnerable people, and frontline health workers.