COVID-19 vaccinations and care homes: programme launch
You will have seen the excellent news that a vaccine has been authorised and care home residents, and care home staff are the top priority to get it. This will save lives.
This letter outlines 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.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) confirmed on Wednesday, in its advice on priority groups for vaccination, that adult social care is in its top priority groups. Group 1 is ‘Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers’ and Group 2 includes ‘Frontline health and social care workers’.
Getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to care home residents is challenging because of the requirements for transporting it and the temperature at which it is stored. So 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. All groups involved are working hard to bring a vaccine to those who need it, and over the coming weeks, more Hospital Hubs and other vaccination locations will be operational.
The people you care for and your staff are the priority for the vaccine, and we want to work with you to get it to them as rapidly as possible to save lives.
The steps here are for two purposes. Firstly, so that your staff can be part of the early wave to be vaccinated in Hospital Hubs, but secondly so that when we can get a vaccine to homes, you’ll be ready for it.
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
Please use the government’s standardised consent form to gain consent. You may want to start talking to residents and their families now about the vaccination.
These arrangements are to cover the initial period in which vaccines are available, and will be developed and modified, when the National Booking System for vaccination becomes available. Initially, local booking systems will be in place with Hospital Hubs.
COVID-19 vaccination: consent forms and letters for care home residents
Gov.uk has published Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination consent forms and letter templates for care home residents.