The NHS has now offered Covid vaccinations at every eligible care home in England, with Prime Minister hailing this as ‘a crucial milestone’.
According to NHS England, GPs and other NHS staff have offered the Covid vaccine to more than 10,000 care homes with older residents, but a ‘small remainder’ have had their visits deferred by local directors of public health for safety reasons during a local outbreak.
Those homes will be visited for jabs ‘as soon as NHS staff are allowed to do so’, it added.
However, ministers have been called on to accelerate the rollout among care home staff.
Fiona Carragher, Alzheimer’s Society director of research and influencing, said the organisation is ‘concerned’ that ‘staff vaccination rollout has not nearly been so effective’ as the vaccination of residents.
She added: ‘We cannot afford to leave any stones unturned for vulnerable people with dementia who have suffered so much this last year.’
Liz Kendall, shadow social care minister, said ministers ‘must leave no stone overturned to vaccinate all social care staff within the next two weeks’.
This comes as NHS England, last week, said GP-led vaccination teams were ‘on track’ to offer the Covid vaccine to all residents by yesterday, having previously expected all first doses to be administered by 24 January ‘at the latest’.
NHS England said GPs will also return to homes that have already been covered to vaccinate residents who were unable to get a jab during a previous visit because they recently had Covid or for other clinical reasons.
Government figures show that 598,389 people in the UK received the first dose of the covid vaccine last Saturday– the most recorded in a single day.
Almost 9 million people have received the first dose of the vaccination across all four nations so far, while 490k have received the second dose.
The Prime Minister has also set a target for all people in the top four cohorts to have received their first Covid vaccine dose by mid-February.
NHS England primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘I want to thank my colleagues, and everyone involved in the vaccine rollout for their extraordinary work in recent weeks, as it is because of their tireless efforts that millions of people have already been vaccinated, including hundreds of thousands of care home residents, and as a result we are a vital step further in our fight against Covid-19.’
Prime minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Today marks a crucial milestone in our ongoing race to vaccinate the most vulnerable against this deadly disease.’
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Our priority has been to protect care home residents throughout this pandemic, and I’m delighted we have reached this monumental milestone to protect the most at risk.’
Ruth May, England’s chief nursing officer, joined other senior healthcare professionals last week in penning a letter to frontline staff urging them to take up the Covid-19 vaccine.