GPs and vaccination centres have been asked to ensure that every care home resident is vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of this month.
The government’s instruction came as the first people in the country today received the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine as the NHS rapidly expands its COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures making it easier to distribute across care homes than the previously approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations will be delivered at hospitals for the next few days before the bulk of supplies are sent to hundreds of GP-led services and care homes later in the week.
To help drive the programme, GPs are being given £10 for every care home resident vaccinated by the end of this month.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care, said: “Three quarters of a million people have now received the Pfizer vaccine thanks to the tireless efforts of NHS staff who have given up time with their families over Christmas to deliver vaccines at the same times as treating record numbers of seriously-ill patients with COVID-19.
“As we head into the new year with a second vaccine that is also more versatile we will be able to expand the programme and ensure that the majority of care home residents are protected within the next four weeks or so.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, told CHP: “Care England is pleased to hear that the government is targeting care homes and hopefully everybody in care services should have been vaccinated by the end of January. We will happily work with the DHSC and NHS England to ensure that this objective is reached.”