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Care home residents ‘cannot get Pfizer Covid vaccine due to practical constraints’

Care home residents ‘cannot get Pfizer Covid vaccine due to practical constraints’

It ‘will not be possible’ to deliver the Pfizer Covid vaccine to care home residents due to practical constraints, the Welsh Government has said.

The statement also said that ‘for each candidate vaccine final deployment models will be similar across the UK’, indicating this could be a problem across the four nations.

This comes as the JCVI is recommending that care home groups be the first to receive Covid vaccinations.

And as the Pfizer BioNTech was approved for UK use by the MHRA this morning.

Nursing in Practice has reached out to NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

The JCVI has ‘recommended the vaccine be offered to in the first instance to care home residents and health and social care workers, alongside people aged 80 and over’, the Welsh Government statement said.

But it added: ‘From our ongoing discussions with UK Government and the manufacturer, and from understanding the conditions under which the vaccine trials have been conducted, we are aware of the challenges of storing, distributing and handling the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. In particular its need for storage at very low temperatures of below minus -75ºC +/- 15ºC. 

‘Two specialist sites have been identified as appropriate delivery sites for the vaccine and local Health Boards will collect the vaccines directly from the two sites. We have been exploring suitable options for initial deployment of this vaccine, in line with the JCVI advice, bearing in mind the constraints associated its characteristics and the implications for delivery to all groups. In practical terms at this stage that we cannot deliver this vaccine to care homes.’

At a press conference this morning, the JCVI was asked if they could confirm that care home residents would indeed be the first to receive this vaccine given the logistical issues

JVCI chair for Covid-19 immunisation Professor Wei Shen Lim, of Nottingham University Hospitals, answered: ‘The JCVI’s advice is aimed at maximising benefit from vaccines, and therefore it is aimed at the most vulnerable people, which are people in care homes. Whether or not the vaccine itself can be delivered to care homes is obviously an important point and there will be some flexibility in terms of operational constraints.

‘The JCVI’s advice is that every effort should be made to supply vaccines and offer vaccinations to care home residents. Whether or not that is actually doable is dependent on deployment and implementation.’

Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green told Nursing in Practice: ‘I think it will be difficult for the Pfizer/Biotech vaccine to be used in care homes because of the difficulty of storage and the low temperatures required.

‘In light of this we need the Oxford vaccine to be approved as soon as possible and a vaccination programme put in place so that care home residents can be protected from COVID-19.’

General practices will have to administer the Covid vaccine to care home residents and staff, and housebound patients through home visits, it was revealed last month.

This story was updated at 12.12pm to include comment from Care England.

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