Covid vaccine plans for care home in chaos after frail residents told to ‘get on bus’

Covid vaccine plans for frail care home residents were in chaos tonight after they were told: Get on the bus.

The Government says they will have to travel to hospital hubs for the jab but angry care bosses said: “There’s no way they can do that.”

Care homes fear vaccines won’t be delivered to them until next year despite Government promises they would be a priority.

Operators have instead been told their elderly residents must be bussed to hospital hubs when the UK’s vaccination programme begins on Tuesday.

But care bosses say the reality is many will not make it there.

Nadra Ahmed, executive chair of the National Care Association, told the Sunday People: “There’s no way we are going to get our residents to a site in a hospital setting.”

Over-80s currently having hospital treatment will be first in the queue, followed by care home residents over 80.

Care home workers will be given any jabs left over from the 800,000 that will be available from the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine.

There are currently 3.4million people over 80 in the UK and up to 500,000 living in care homes – meaning only 400,000 of the most vulnerable will be eligible for the two-dose vaccination.

The vaccine must be transported at minus 70C, and can only be kept outside ultra-cold storage for a few days.

Care homes might not be at the top of the list, despite Tory promises

This means 50 hospital hubs in England will receive the first batch before GPs start delivering the vaccine in the community from December 14.

The complex logistical issues mean there are fears some of the most vulnerable in care homes will miss out if they can’t be safely taken to hospital.

The need for two doses means residents will need to make a return trip to hospital, further complicating plans.

Ms Ahmed said: “The sting in the tail is that despite the fact the messages are very clear – that we’re the priority – the reality is we can’t be the priority group, because there’s a practical barrier to it.

“It must have been known. The cynic in me thinks the soundbite was very good and obviously got a lot of kudos but the reality of this particular vaccine is it can’t get into care homes.

“Please don’t over promise things. Let us deliver what we can.”

The Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out across the UK first

She added: “A lot of providers are saying we’re going to have to take on two additional members of staff just to make all of this happen.

“Where are we going to find them? There are more than 100,000 vacancies.”

Mark Adams, chief executive of social care charity Community Integrated Care, said care homes had been given false hope by the Government.

Mr Adams, whose outfit oversees 490 care locations, said: “The odds for getting this done for residents is incredibly difficult. Things are going on at the moment that seem designed to make things as difficult as possible for the care industry.”

Nadra Ahmed, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, insisted vaccines would be inside care homes “definitely within the next two weeks”.

The Sunday People saw this week how St John Ambulance plan to train an army of 30,000 volunteers to help the NHS administer the vaccine.

We visited a centre in Wolverhampton to see the high levels of teaching to bring people up to the high standards required by the NHS.

Volunteers will be kitted out with full PPE, including masks, visors, gloves and aprons to deliver the vaccine. Area manager Fran Watkins, 48, said: “Volunteers will receive 20 hours training, 12 online and then eight face to face in centres like this.”

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Millions of doses of Covid vaccine made in Belgium will be flown to the UK in military planes to avoid chaos at ports hit by Brexit.

Meanwhile hordes of shoppers who hit the high street yesterday were expected to spend up to £1.5bn on the first Saturday since the second national lockdown was lifted in England.

Tier 2 town centres including York, Colchester and Bournemouth were packed.

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