Urgent call for vaccine in all care settings

December 4, 2020

Today, the social care sector responds to the logistical problems associated with rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in care homes.

According to the Care Provider Alliance (CPA), the news of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been welcome. However, the sector says the challenge of getting the vaccine to people who need it is very real.

Responding to the COVID-19 vaccine news, Kathy Roberts, chair of the CPA said, ‘The welcomed news of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been echoed by many colleagues across the adult social care sector. It is a landmark achievement and one that will, when implemented, successfully save the lives of many of the vulnerable people in our communities.

‘The challenge of getting the vaccine to the people who need it most is very real. The onset of winter pressures and the logistical challenges for storing and transporting the vaccine needs to be carefully thought through. Adult social care providers have different responsibilities according to the type of service and the needs of the people they support. Nonetheless, there are steps that must be taken now to support all care providers to assist the seamless rollout of the vaccines and to improve take-up amongst service users and staff.’

The CPA says their work with DHSC colleagues has never been more essential to ensure that all parts of the adult social care sector are prioritised for the effective rollout of the vaccine.  The CPA want to see a coordinated approach used for the care workforce, to make sure that care workers are supported to get the vaccine, so they can support people receiving care and support to be vaccinated.

With regards to how the vaccine should reach people in care homes, the National Care Forum (NCF) have put forward their suggestions.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director at the National Care Forum (NCF) said, ‘The only viable solution for widescale vaccination of care home residents is to get vaccines over the threshold and have them delivered onsite in care homes. It is not tenable to suggest, or encourage very frail people to go to hospital, or even community-based hubs.

‘Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic care providers have worked hard to limit the risk of virus transmission to keep people safe, it is not sensible to change that now during what still is a national pandemic.

‘Now is the time for the NHS to work very closely with GPs and pharmacies and care homes to help mobilise a local vaccination service – we know that taking the vaccine to the people who need it the most is the most effective way to boost uptake rates and protect our care home communities.’

According to NCF, the Scottish Government intend to honour the prioritisation outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and deliver the vaccine directly to Scottish care homes.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director at the National Care Forum (NCF) said, ‘It is not at all clear at this moment why the English Government are not pursuing this path. However, if it turns out that all avenues have been exhausted, and that there is no way for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered within care homes, then we need some urgent guarantees that the alternative vaccines will meet the criteria to be delivered  on site and in care homes. The timescale for assurance of the alternative vaccines must be clearly laid out.’

The NCF has also raised concerns around the practicalities of staff having to travel to sites for vaccination. Some of the logistical problems could be surrounding travel, payment of staff while being vaccinated, distance of homes from sites, and booking into sites.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director at the National Care Forum (NCF) said, ‘As we know, the existing allocation from the Infection Control Fund is already stretched to the limit in its commitments and so funding will need to be made available to make sure care homes are supported to making this a reality.’

For more information about the rollout of the  vaccine, visit the UK Government website.

Read the latest confirmed guidance for visiting care homes in the UK.

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