Care homes are reporting concerns regarding the slow rollout of the Coronavirus booster vaccination. Furthermore, the lack of contact surrounding the booster uptake is causing frustration for both care home residents and staff. The latest figures show that only one-third of care home residents have received their booster jab to date.
This comes despite the booster programme advising GP-led vaccination sites to prioritise the booster vaccination for patients and staff in care homes. Those eligible, including older adult care home residents and care home staff, should be offered the booster vaccination by the 1st of November. Delivery plans were originally designed to meet this target.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today programme on the booster vaccination issue, the chairman of the National Care Association (NCA) Nadra Ahmed OBE said:
“We’re hearing every day that providers are saying to us that, ‘We’ve not been contacted yet’. Or, ‘We were contacted to be ready and it’s two weeks since then’. There’s a concern because obviously, the six-month gap is getting bigger and bigger. So the efficacy of the vaccine is reducing. We have infection rates that are rising so, for both staff and residents, there’s this fear. It’s the pressure of the challenge now when we’re also facing this chronic shortage of staff; which isn’t being addressed at all.”
Addressing the Cabinet earlier this week, Boris Johnson said:
“We must put all our energies into our vaccination programmes.”
Speaking about the booster vaccination, co-founder of the Outstanding Managers Network, Jane Brightman, said:
“Where they’ve [care homes] heard nothing, there’s frustration. At this stage, I think they’re [care homes] still anticipating it’ll happen any day soon, but nerves about the winter are incredibly high.”
From 11th November 2021, all care home workers (and anyone entering a care home), will need to be fully vaccinated, unless they’re exempt under the regulations. However, Jane Brightman has called for further clarification. She wants both the Quality Care Commission and the government to be clearer on whether or not the booster vaccination will become mandatory for staff.
Covid statistics reported by gov.uk, show 912 deaths within the last seven days—a 10.8% increase on the previous seven-day data. Thus, concerns are growing that without the booster vaccination for the most vulnerable, the vaccine efficacy is reduced.