Has every care home resident REALLY been offered a Covid jab?

Number 10 has pointed the finger at local health bosses for not offering every care home resident a coronavirus vaccine by the end of January.

The Government target had been to get vaccines to all people living in care homes in England by the end of January. 

And NHS England today claimed it had hit the goal with the caveat of ‘every eligible care home’. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to celebrate the milestone at a 5pm Downing Street press conference this evening.

But the Prime Minister’s spokesman admitted a ‘small number’ of care homes have had their visits ‘briefly delayed’. The decision was ‘made by local directors of public health for safety reasons due to local outbreaks’.

They said: ‘But those care homes will be visited and jabbed as soon as the NHS staff are able to go into those homes and do so.’  

It comes after England’s minister for social care also admitted that the NHS has not offered Covid jabs to everyone living in care homes. Helen Whately said ineligible homes were ones that were mid-way through Covid outbreaks and deemed unsafe for vaccination teams to go into.  

The NHS bragged that almost 10,000 homes have been contacted in England — but did not reveal how many hadn’t. 

When confronted on BBC Radio 4 with cases of care home residents who had not yet been offered vaccines, Ms Whateley vowed to personally follow up the cases and get them jabs, encouraging members of the public to email her directly. 

Care home bosses are now urging the NHS to vaccinate more care workers to give more protection to the elderly amid concerns that uptake has so far been low, with only a quarter of homes having at least 70 per cent of their staff immunised.  

And they are angry about the decision to delay the second dose of the jab, which may prevent them loosening visiting rules, while actress and now campaigner Ruthie Henshall said visiting should be allowed because residents are ‘dying of loneliness’. 

Care minister Helen Whately said today that a 'small number' of care homes still need to be visited by vaccination teams in the next couple of weeks

Care minister Helen Whately said today that a 'small number' of care homes still need to be visited by vaccination teams in the next couple of weeks

Care minister Helen Whately said today that a ‘small number’ of care homes still need to be visited by vaccination teams in the next couple of weeks

Care home residents were top of the UK's vaccine priority list because they are at a high risk of dying if they catch Covid-19 (Pictured: 100-year-old Nell Prosser gets her jab at a home in London)

Care home residents were top of the UK's vaccine priority list because they are at a high risk of dying if they catch Covid-19 (Pictured: 100-year-old Nell Prosser gets her jab at a home in London)

Care home residents were top of the UK’s vaccine priority list because they are at a high risk of dying if they catch Covid-19 (Pictured: 100-year-old Nell Prosser gets her jab at a home in London)

Covid-19 vaccines have also been sent to the Falklands islands to help protect them against the virus. Pictured is the Voyager aircraft being loaded this morning before taking off for the islands in the southern Atlantic

Covid-19 vaccines have also been sent to the Falklands islands to help protect them against the virus. Pictured is the Voyager aircraft being loaded this morning before taking off for the islands in the southern Atlantic

Covid-19 vaccines have also been sent to the Falklands islands to help protect them against the virus. Pictured is the Voyager aircraft being loaded this morning before taking off for the islands in the southern Atlantic

CARE HOME RESIDENTS ARE ‘DYING OF LONELINESS’. ACTRESS RUTHIE HENSHALL WARNS

Actress and now campaigner Ruthie Henshall has warned people in care homes are dying of loneliness and argued that visiting rights should be enshrined in law.

Speaking about her own mother, Gloria, who lives in a home, Ms Henshall said she had witnessed her ‘rapid decline’ during the lockdown with her now unable to walk or eat solid food by herself.

The 53-year-old actress, who was on I’m a Celebrity.. Get Me Out of Here! last year and is famed for her work on theatre stages, said she is campaigning with a group called Rights for Residents.

When asked how long her mother – who received her first jab last week – would have to wait for the second, Ms Henshall said: ‘Three months, we’re being told – the only reason that they had the vaccine in their care home was that they went through another channel, because if they’d have gone through the GP they’d still be waiting.

‘This is completely unacceptable. I’m working with Rights for Residents and we are the eyes, the ears and the voice for many of these people, and they are dying from loneliness and isolation. 

‘One thing I would say is that every other member of society has had the right to a support bubble and people in care homes are not being given that right. They are dying of loneliness.’  

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Britain has now vaccinated 8.9million people against Covid-19, putting it almost two thirds of the way to its target of reaching around 15m by mid-February.

The vast majority of these people – around 8.4million – have only had one dose of a jab and will have to wait up to three months for their second for full protection.

But, if the February 15 target is hit, Boris Johnson has pledged to consider beginning to lift lockdown rules from March 8, with school reopenings first on the list.

The Prime Minister said today: ‘Today marks a crucial milestone in our ongoing race to vaccinate the most vulnerable against this deadly disease.

‘We said we would prioritise and protect care home residents, and that is exactly what we have done.’

But NHS England said in its press release that Covid outbreaks had prevented some care homes from getting vaccines for their residents and staff – it is not clear how many.

When challenged on the Government’s claim that it had offered jabs to all care home residents, Ms Whately said on the Today programme: ‘I would say there’s a small number because of an outbreak where the director of public health has said that at the moment it’s not appropriate to go in that will need to be visited in the next few weeks.’

She added: ‘We have offered a vaccine to every care home where it’s possible to go in. 

‘I know because I said we must make sure that we communicate… we emailed out to every care home last week and the week before ‘if you haven’t heard from the vaccination team, let us know’ and so we’re making sure that anyone that says they haven’t heard would let us know so that we could send a targeted team in to do that.’

When Ms Whately was confronted with a story of a 103-year-old care home resident in Kent who had not yet been vaccinated, she encouraged people to contact her personally.

‘Anyone like that listening, or any care home that [hasn’t] been contacted, just let me know, I will personally follow up,’ she said. 

A military aircraft left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire in the early hours of this morning carrying 3,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Falklands

A military aircraft left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire in the early hours of this morning carrying 3,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Falklands

A military aircraft left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire in the early hours of this morning carrying 3,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Falklands

Members of the ground crew wait for cargo and a supply of Covid-19 vaccines to be loaded onto a Voyager aircraft at RAF Brize Norton

Members of the ground crew wait for cargo and a supply of Covid-19 vaccines to be loaded onto a Voyager aircraft at RAF Brize Norton

Members of the ground crew wait for cargo and a supply of Covid-19 vaccines to be loaded onto a Voyager aircraft at RAF Brize Norton

The social care minister, who is MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, can be reached through the contact page of her website.

NHS England said people living at more than 10,000 eligible care homes with older residents had been offered the jab as almost 600,000 coronavirus vaccines were given out in Britain on Saturday – a daily record.

Nine in 10 people over the age of 80 have received their first jab, along with three quarters of people aged 75 to 79, the figures show. People in their 60s are expected to start receiving invitations for jab in the next few weeks as the rollout continues to gather pace.

Care UK, one of the largest care home chains, said that all but one of its 124 homes had already been visited by vaccination teams. It said that about 85 per cent of residents had received the first dose of the vaccine but it was expecting the proportion to rise once it received updated figures. 

 

West End star Ruthie, 53, revealed how she'd had a distressing Facetime call with her mum Gloria, who suffers from dementia and is in her 80s, in her care home (mother and daughter pictured before lockdown)

West End star Ruthie, 53, revealed how she'd had a distressing Facetime call with her mum Gloria, who suffers from dementia and is in her 80s, in her care home (mother and daughter pictured before lockdown)

West End star Ruthie, 53, revealed how she’d had a distressing Facetime call with her mum Gloria, who suffers from dementia and is in her 80s, in her care home (mother and daughter pictured before lockdown)

CALL TO VACCINATE CARE WORKERS AS 3/4 HOMES HAVE FEWER THAN 70% PROTECTED 

Industry bosses say it is now vital that the Government pushes to get care workers vaccinated against Covid to try and stop the virus from spreading at all in their homes.

It is not yet known how well the jabs will prevent coronavirus from spreading because trials only looked at whether they would stop severe illness and death, which they do.  

Vic Rayner, the executive director of the National Care Forum, said just 27 per cent of its member organisations had 70 per cent or more of their staff vaccinated as of early last week, adding that access to doses was the main issue.

She told Sky News: ‘The priority over the next two weeks is to get the vaccine out to 1.6million people who work across care. So it is a big, big task and a big clock is ticking away around that.’

Nadra Ahmed, executive chairman of the National Care Association (NCA), representing small and medium-sized providers, said some staff were refusing a jab due to ‘cultural issues’.

She told the BBC: ‘Some of it is to do with access and that is that people are just not able to get to where they needed to go to.

‘If they’ve been coming into the care homes, the GPs have not had enough vaccine for the staff as well, they’ve just got enough for the residents, which is the priority.

‘And some of it is to do with cultural issues and some is that people just don’t want to have the vaccine.

‘We have to convince people that this vaccine is for them. That it’s for the staff to protect them and therefore protect the services they work in.’

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But up to a fifth of care home staff have refused the offer of a Covid vaccine as bosses are taking legal advice over whether they can force reluctant workers to get the jab. 

Data from a number of providers shows between five per cent and 21 per cent of workers offered a vaccine have declined it.

The leader of Enfield Council, Nesil Caliskan, said most care home staff hesitant to have the vaccine in her borough were predominantly ethnic minority workers. ‘The staff are heavily represented by BAME communities in London, and it has been difficult to get the messaging out’, she said.

Up to half of those in some areas with a high ethnic minority population are refusing the coronavirus jab, a poll last month revealed. 

Social care minister Helen Whately said today that care home staff won’t be forced to get jabs.

‘We know that there were some staff that were worried about the idea of having the vaccination,’ she told BBC Breakfast.

‘But what I am hearing is that when the vaccination teams go into the care homes staff are coming forward. Some might be nervous but when they see their colleagues getting the vaccination, when they see that it’s all right… we really are seeing good take-up from care home workers.’

Industry bosses said it was vital that the Government push to get care workers vaccinated against Covid to try and stop the virus from spreading at all in their homes.

It is not yet known how well the jabs will prevent coronavirus from spreading because trials only looked at whether they would stop severe illness and death, which they do.  

Vic Rayner, the executive director of the National Care Forum, said just 27 per cent of its member organisations had 70 per cent or more of their staff vaccinated as of early last week, adding that access to doses was the main issue.

She told Sky News: ‘The priority over the next two weeks is to get the vaccine out to 1.6 million people who work across care. So it is a big, big task and a big clock is ticking away around that.’

Nadra Ahmed, executive chairman of the National Care Association (NCA), representing small and medium-sized providers, said some staff were refusing a jab due to ‘cultural issues’.

She told the BBC: ‘Some of it is to do with access and that is that people are just not able to get to where they needed to go to.

‘If they’ve been coming into the care homes, the GPs have not had enough vaccine for the staff as well, they’ve just got enough for the residents, which is the priority.

‘And some of it is to do with cultural issues and some is that people just don’t want to have the vaccine.

‘We have to convince people that this vaccine is for them. That it’s for the staff to protect them and therefore protect the services they work in.’ 

SECOND DOSE DELAY ‘A CONCERN’ FOR GETTING HOMES BACK TO NORMAL 

The 12-week delay to the second dose of coronavirus vaccines is making life difficult for those in care homes because it prolongs their ability to widen out visits for their residents, bosses say.

Sam Monaghan, chief executive of MHA, which runs care homes in England, said it was good news that so many residents had been vaccinated but that it was unclear what this meant for their freedoms.

He told BBC Radio 4: ‘The other concerns we have are just about the surety of the supply because, clearly, over the last weekend we were hearing about some issues to do with the volume of the doses coming in, so that’s a concern. 

‘I think what we need to do is try and expedite that second dose so that we can look at reuniting residents with their relatives. 

‘I think the other thing that we need from Government is some clarity around what actually is possible when people have had both doses of the vaccination. 

‘Obviously what we’re trying to do is create safe communities with the number of residents and staff vaccinated. But what will that mean in terms of other people then potentially coming in?’

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NHS England’s primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘I want to thank my colleagues, and everyone involved in the vaccine rollout for their extraordinary work in recent weeks, as it is because of their tireless efforts that millions of people have already been vaccinated, including hundreds of thousands of care home residents, and as a result we are a vital step further in our fight against Covid-19.

‘It has been a privilege to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable people and the wonderful people who look after them.

‘Many have had little contact with the outside world throughout the pandemic and so it has been truly humbling for all, giving them hope and importantly protection against the disease.’

There were however some concerns that older people who receive visits from social care workers in their own homes are being forgotten.

Ben Maruthappu, the boss of Cera, one of the UK’s largest home care providers, said that only 1 per cent of the 10,0000 older people it cared for in their own homes had been vaccinated. 

The total number of people in the UK who have now received at least one dose of the jab, seen as the antidote for our way out of the pandemic, is 8,977,329. 

With the number of inoculations given each day continuing to rise, ministers are confident that they will also achieve the target of offering a first vaccine to everyone over the age of 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable by the middle of February.

To achieve such a feat, vaccinators would need to give out an average of 401,512 first doses each day between now and the target date.

To accelerate the rollout, vaccinations are now being administered at more than 250 hospitals, 1,000 GP-led services, 117 high street pharmacies and 47 large-scale vaccination centres across the country. 

Government data up to January 30 shows of the 9,468,382 jabs given in the UK so far, 8,977,329 were first doses – a rise of 598,389 on the previous day’s figures.

Some 491,053 were second doses, an increase of 10,621 on figures released the previous day. The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 374,858.

Based on the latest figures, an average of 401,512 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the Government’s target of 15 million first doses by February 15.

Is Britain already preparing for next winter’s Covid vaccine roll-out? UK orders 40million extra doses of Valneva’s jab — but won’t get them until 2022

The UK Government has ordered an extra 40million doses of Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine, taking its total to 100million doses.

The original order of 60million doses isn’t expected to be delivered until the second half of 2021. But the new order won’t be delivered until 2022.

It’s likely that most or all adults in Britain will already have had one of the other Covid vaccines by the time this one is ready. But infectious disease experts say people may need re-vaccinating in future — like what happens against the flu each winter — and the UK may also export to other countries.

Britain has now ordered a total of 407million doses of Covid vaccines – enough to give the entire population, including children, six doses each. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed the stockpile was enough to ‘protect the British public in 2021 and beyond’. 

Valneva’s two-dose jab — which is already being manufactured in Scotland — is the first of its kind to be developed in the West and is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’, meaning it works by injecting people with a destroyed version of the real coronavirus.

This allows the immune system to train itself to attack the actual virus, without the risk of it actually causing an infection.

Valneva has already begun manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccine at its facility in Scotland even though the jab hasn't finished clinical trials yet

Valneva has already begun manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccine at its facility in Scotland even though the jab hasn't finished clinical trials yet

Valneva has already begun manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccine at its facility in Scotland even though the jab hasn’t finished clinical trials yet

The Government confirmed this morning that it had signed a deal to almost double its initial order for 60million doses of the jab.

It is not clear exactly why the Government has ordered the surplus, with its original order already enough to vaccinate half the country and the possibility of 200million more doses becoming available first.

The fact it is being manufactured in Scotland may have swayed the decision in the wake of a blazing row between the European Union and British firm AstraZeneca last week, which saw countries get protective over vaccine imports and exports.

Having a huge back-order of vaccines due to be manufactured in Britain would strengthen its position in the case of any international feuds in future.

Valneva is manufacturing the vaccine in Livingston, Scotland, where it expects to be able to make 250million doses per year when fully operational.

Of the UK’s doses, 60million are expected this year and the remaining 40m will be delivered next year, the Department of Health said. 

ALL CARE HOME RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN OFFERED JABS AS ROLL-OUT STEAMS AHEAD 

Every elderly care home resident across England has now been offered their first Covid vaccination, with Boris Johnson promising to continue the ‘acceleration’ of the programme across the country.

NHS England said people living at more than 10,000 eligible care homes with older residents had been offered the jab as almost 600,000 coronavirus vaccines were given out in Britain – a daily record.

Care home residents were the top priority group for the UK because they are most at risk of dying if they catch Covid-19. 

The Government will announce today that the care home milestone, which it promised to reach by the end of January, has been achieved in the nick of time.

A small number of homes had visits deferred for safety reasons during a local outbreak but would be visited as soon as it was safe for NHS staff to do so, a spokesman for NHS England said.

Nine in 10 people over 80 have received their first jab, along with three quarters of people aged 75 to 79, the figures show. People in their 60s are expected to start receiving invitations for jab in the next few weeks as the rollout continues to gather pace.

Care UK, one of the largest care home chains, said that all but one of its 124 homes had already been visited by vaccination teams. It said that about 85 per cent of residents had received the first dose of the vaccine but it was expecting the proportion to rise once it received updated figures.

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The jab is being made ahead of time before clinical trials have proven how well it works, in order for supplies to be available as soon as possible when the study is complete. 

Results from its second phase of testing, usually done on a few thousand people to test immune system reactions and safety, are expected in April.

All the other vaccine candidates ordered by Britain have so far been successful, with efficacy rates in trials suggesting they are between 62 and 95 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19.

A total of nine million people have received the first dose of a jab so far.

And last week brought two huge boosts to the programme when Novavax and Janssen both revealed their vaccines had been successful in clinical trials.

Both are expected to submit trial results to the regulator, MHRA, in the coming weeks and could add another 90million doses to Britain’s catalogue.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: ‘This latest deal is yet another weapon in our national arsenal against this terrible disease, and will ensure we have sufficient supplies to protect the British public in 2021 and beyond.

‘Backed with major investment from the UK Government, Valneva’s site in Scotland will be a vaccine production powerhouse, working flat out to ensure we can quickly deploy jabs across the UK if their candidate is approved, while supporting top quality, local jobs.

‘Thanks to our incredible UK Vaccine Taskforce, we have now secured a bumper portfolio of over 400 million vaccines, putting our country in an exceptionally strong position to defeat this virus once and for all.’

By using an inactivated whole virus, the vaccine works by exposing the body to the coronavirus in a low-risk way so that it can work out how to attack it in case the person gets infected with the real virus in future.

When it sees the virus, the body can send white blood cells and proteins called antibodies to work out the specific response it needs to destroy it before illness develops.

If the virus was alive there is a risk it could spread too fast and get too deep into the body for the immune system to do this before the body could stop it.

A dead version, however, gives the immune system the same blueprint to mount its response – and remember it for the future – without the virus being able to multiply and outrun it. 

The technology is already used in vaccines to treat seasonal flu, hepatitis A, polio and rabies. 

None of this type have yet been developed for Covid in Europe, but jabs developed by Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, and India’s Bharat Biotech, which have all been approved for emergency use in their countries, are also inactivated vaccines.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The Valneva vaccine showcases the best of Scottish expertise right at the heart of our UK vaccine endeavour, demonstrating the strength of our union and what the UK can achieve when it works together.

‘If the vaccine is authorised by the health regulator, it will be rolled out across the four nations as quickly as possible.’

If it is approved, 60million doses could start to be delivered to the UK by the second half of 2021.

WHICH COVID VACCINES WILL BRITAIN GET ITS HANDS ON? 

Pfizer/BioNTech (approved) 40million doses

The breakthrough jab was the first in the world to be proven to successfully block severe Covid-19 last year and it gained approval in the UK on December 2. 

Type: It uses brand-new technology and is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code to enters cells and tells them to create antigens, which make them look like the coronavirus.

Efficacy: Studies showed the two-dose vaccine could prevent severe illness in 95 per cent of people who were injected with it. 

How many? The Government has ordered 40million doses, enough to vaccinate 20million Brits, but only a handful of million Brits have received the jab so far. 

Oxford University/AstraZeneca (approved) — 100million doses  

Type: Oxford’s vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus known as adenovirus which is genetically engineered to carry the genetics needed to create ‘spike’ proteins that make cells look like the coronavirus.

Efficacy: It was shown to be about 70 per cent effective at blocking Covid-19. In early results this varied from 62 per cent in people who received the full two doses to 90 per cent in people who received 1.5, however scientists say the 62 per cent figure has improved since those results were published.

How many? The UK has ordered 100million doses.

Moderna (approved) — 17million doses ordered

Type: Moderna’s jab also uses mRNA technology and works in a similar way to the Pfizer one already being offered on the NHS.

Efficacy: It was found to have 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials.

How many? Britain has ordered 17million doses but was late to the party because it didn’t want to bet on this as well as the Pfizer jab, because both are based on the same technology. The first doses are expected to arrive in March.  

Novavax (waiting approval) — 100million doses

Type: The Novavax vaccine works like other vaccines by teaching the immune system to make antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein. Researchers inserted a modified gene into a virus, called a baculovirus, and allowed it to infect insect cells. Spike proteins from these cells were then assembled into nanoparticles which, while they look like coronavirus, cannot replicate or cause Covid-19.

Efficacy: Novavax said the trials had shown its vaccine was 89.3 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19.

How many? Under a deal with the Government, 60million doses of the vaccine will be produced on Teesside for use in this country. 

Janssen/Johnson and Johnson (waiting approval) — 30million doses 

Type: The jab uses the same adenovirus technology as the Oxford University vaccine, making it just as easy to transport and store, but requires just a single injection to protect against Covid

Efficacy: Johnson and Johnson said it prevents, on average, 66 per cent of all coronavirus cases among people who get the jab.

The company also found it prevented severe symptoms in 85 per cent of people and no-one who got the jab died or needed hospital treatment from 28 days after being inoculated. 

The 66 per cent efficacy was a global average, with the jab preventing 72 per cent of cases in the US but only 57 per cent in South Africa, which is being devastated by a mutated variant that appears to be less susceptible to vaccines and immunity from older versions of the virus. It is promising, however, that the jab still worked in South Africa and still prevented hospitalisation.

How many? The UK has already struck a deal for 30million doses, with the option of ordering 22million more.  

Valneva (in trials) — 100million doses

Type: This jab is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’ which uses a damaged version of the real coronavirus to stimulate the immune system.

Efficacy: Unknown – trials are still ongoing, 

How many? Britain has already ordered 100million doses and the first batches could be delivered by the end of 2021. 

GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi Pasteur (in trials) — 60million doses  

Type: GSK’s vaccine is based on the existing technology used to produce Sanofi’s seasonal flu vaccine. Genetic material from the surface protein of the Covid virus is inserted into insect cells – the basis of Sanofi’s influenza product – and then injected to provoke an immune response in a human patient.

Efficacy: Unknown – trials are still ongoing.

How many?  The UK in July secured 60million doses of the prospective treatment, but the companies say they will likely not be ready before the end of 2021.

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