The Minister for Care, Helen Whately, has written to care homes outlining plans for how the first COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech) will reach care home staff.
At the beginning of the month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) confirmed that adult social care is in its top priority groups for vaccination. Group 1 is ‘residents in a care home for older adults and their carers’ and Group 2 includes ‘frontline health and social care workers.’
The letter outlines Department of Health & Social care (DHSC) plans for getting the first vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) to care home staff from the first day that vaccinations are available. It sets out the actions that local authorities and care providers should take in the coming days.
Getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to care home residents is, the letter states “ challenging because of the requirements for transporting it and the temperature at which it is stored”, and the focus, initially, is on vaccinating care home workers and the over 80s.
Vaccines will be available from Tuesday 8 December 2020, initially in up to 50 Hospital Hubs across England, and over the coming weeks, more Hospital Hubs and other vaccination locations will be operational.
The DHSC will be assisting our NHS colleagues by providing them with information on care homes, and are asking local authorities to work with NHS colleagues and local care homes to ensure that available vaccination slots are filled, including by assisting providers, where needed, with their transport plans.
In preparation care home managers should:
- put together staff lists, including basic details (name, gender, date of birth, NHS number, GP details) for each staff member
- be ready to provide each staff member with a letter confirming their employment in the care sector
- keep staff records of vaccinations and report via the Capacity Tracker (as you do with flu vaccination)
- consider the covid-secure logistics of releasing staff to receive their vaccine, while maintaining staffing levels within their home. Practical and implementable plans should be in place from early next week
- take steps now to ensure that staff understand need for obtaining consent, so that they in turn can help residents and families to complete the necessary forms when a vaccine is ready to be delivered within a care home. Once issued, these forms will provide additional information about the vaccine they are receiving
The DHSC are working on a standardised consent form which is needed to gain consent to vaccinate as and when the vaccine is available to care homes and is advising homes to start talking to residents and their families now about the vaccination.