The National Care Forum have carried out a snapshot survey across 750 homes in England over the 25th and 26th January 2021. The survey asked about the availability and take up of COVID-19 vaccination by residents and staff in care homes for older people, the JCVI priority 1 group.
The survey revealed the very positive news around resident vaccination that approximately 95% of care homes had whole home vaccination testing within their settings. However, the story for staff showed there is still some way to go before the full cohort of staff in these homes have received their vaccination.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director at the NCF says:
“The incredible drive by community health colleagues and care homes working together in partnership has resulted in nearly 100% of all homes within this survey being visited by a roving vaccination team. This is a brilliant achievement.
“However, the prioritisation of staff vaccination does not appear to have been followed through with the same level of effectiveness. Whilst it is encouraging that the vast majority of organisations who responded noted that 50% or more of staff have been vaccinated, only 27% reported vaccination of over 70% of their staff.
“We need to learn quickly from the reasons why organisations are stating that staff have not been vaccinated and wherever possible remove the barriers at a local and national level. We need to eliminate the practices highlighted by members where staff have been unable to get vaccination appointments at local settings, or when vaccination teams come into a home and do not have sufficient vaccine to cover staff as well as residents. We must also make sure that any staff who express concerns about vaccination have the full opportunity to have all their questions answered, and then with their agreement be rapidly incorporated at the front of the queue in local vaccination centres. In many ways staff vaccination is proving to be the harder part of the equation, yet we know that it is critical for the safety of staff and to support the huge pressure on staffing caused by absence that care homes have been working with over recent months.
“The NHS England target to vaccinate all residents and staff by the 24th January has been missed. The clock is now ticking on the stated government objective of getting all those in groups 1 to 4 vaccinated by the 15th February. The experience of care home staff to date would suggest there is much work to be done to make this a reality, particularly when going forward, almost all vaccinations will take place in the community and care home staff who should be vaccinated first, run the very real risk of being lost in the rush.”