All eligible care homes for older people in England have been offered COVID vaccinations, the NHS has confirmed.
The NHS said that more than 10,000 care homes with older residents had been offered the jabs although a small remainder have had visits deferred due to outbreaks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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.
“There will be difficult moments to come, and the number of cases and people in hospital remains dangerously high.
“But vaccines are our route out of the pandemic, and having protected 8.9 million people with a first dose so far, our rollout programme will only accelerate from here on.”
Professor Martin Green OBE and Chief Executive of Care England said: “The delivery of the vaccine to all care homes for older people is a wonderful achievement and one that pays testament to the hard work of care home staff and our colleagues in the NHS and local authorities.
“We now look forward to working in partnership to deliver the government’s ambitious programme for administration of the second dose and rolling the programme out to people with learning disabilities living in care homes and supported living settings.”
Andrew Knight, Chief Executive of Care UK said: “We are delighted with the progress of the vaccination programme and the teamwork that has ensured that almost all of our residents have now been offered their first vaccination.
“The majority of our colleagues have also now been vaccinated and colleagues and residents are now looking forward to receiving their second vaccination.
“Thank you to all of those involved in this incredibly fast programme of successfully providing vaccinations that will provide protection for our residents and colleagues in our homes. This is a major step forward in our fight against the virus.”
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association added: “This has been a great achievement under extreme and challenging circumstances. The common purpose to combat this virus has driven colleagues in the NHS, primary care, DHSC and the provider sector to overcome ‘bumps in the road’ and enable those in care homes, who were able to have the vaccine, to receive it.
“With each jab given we are a step closer to the new normality we are striving for in our services and the sector as a whole. With this foundation we hope to be able to ensure that our workforce and the entire social care sector, in its varied and complex settings will also receive the vaccine soon and so be protected from this virus.”
Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) Chief Executive Kathryn Smith commented: “This is really encouraging news and I’m sure it will be a huge relief to many people living in care homes and their relatives. We’ve said from the start of the pandemic that all care settings are likely to be supporting people who are the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.
“The sooner that all care home residents and staff can get a vaccine the better, so that COVID-19 cases can start dropping as soon as possible. However, we are still calling for vaccinations in all care settings, including home care, where the consequences of infection can be just as devastating as in care homes.”