A sign of what to expect here in Australia in March?
A 90-year old woman living in Coventry became the first person to receive one of the initial 800,000 doses of the vaccine outside of trial conditions.
The vaccine is currently being distributed to over 70 hospitals and around 300 GP hubs, targeting those aged 80 and over, aged care staff and healthcare workers, but requires a second dose.
The UK’s peak body for Not For Profit providers, the National Care Forum, is reporting that some of its members have already had staff vaccinated in hospital hubs on the first day of the rollout.
“It is excellent news that social care staff working in all settings have been recognised as being in the highest two priorities and that the vaccine has begun to be rolled out to them,” they told members.
“There is also a lot of work going on to ensure that older adults in care homes and in the community won’t be far behind.”
Vaccines not available in aged care homes
However, the NCF’s Executive Director, Vic Rayner, says they are disappointed that the vaccines are not being delivered directly to aged care homes.
“It is disappointing to have ended up in a situation where the people who are top of the list for vaccination are not able to get it immediately. Bottom line is that we need to get vaccines to the people who need it most, in care homes, as quickly as possible,” she said.
“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 in order to keep people safe, it is not sensible to change that now during what still is a national pandemic.”
There are plans to vaccinate staff and residents in aged care homes, with managers asked to put together lists of staff and keep records of their vaccinations and residents’ and families’ consent.
National booking system for vaccination in aged care still to go live
Staff are also being asked to start talking to residents and families about the vaccine ahead of completing the consent forms.
“There will be a National Booking System but this isn’t live yet,” the NCF advises. “In the interim there will be local booking systems with the Hospital Hubs. We do not yet have a final list of the Hospital Hub locations.”
The peak body is also asking its members to flood their social media with good news stories, images and videos of staff, and eventually residents, getting the vaccine over the next couple of months, in order to encourage take-up.
You can check out the UK Government’s advice for social care staff on being vaccinated here.