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Are Care Home staff resisting the COVID-19 vaccine? (03/02/2021)
Although resident vaccination has reached 95% of care homes, staff vaccination does not appear to have been followed through with the same level of effectiveness. Several care homes have reported that vaccination teams have entered care homes without enough vaccines for staff as well as residents. Care homes reported: - Staff were unavailable when whole home vaccination was taking place due to shift patterns. - Staff were unable to have the vaccine due to medical reasons. - Staff were unable to get alternative local appointment for vaccination. - A need to wait for 28 days if tested positive with COVID-19. Furthermore, staff have also been refusing due to disability, pregnancy, religious/philosophical beliefs or on the grounds that it has not been tested on enough people. But making it a requirement for staff who refuse, could lead to potential discrimination claims, which may be difficult to objectively justify. In fact, there is currently no legal basis in the UK to make vaccination for Covid-19 mandatory. In fact, the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 specifically precludes any government regulations from ‘requiring a person to undergo medical treatment’ which includes vaccinations. However, with deaths still rising in care homes and the total number of deaths in care homes now at 24,709, care providers are under pressure to make their care homes as safe as possible, and this low take up of the vaccine by care workers is creating significant operational challenges for them.
The NHS has announced that a COVID-19 vaccine has now been offered to all older residents at eligible care homes in England. NHS England said more than 10,000 care homes with older residents had been offered jabs, although a "small remainder" of homes had visits deferred by local public health directors for safety reasons during local outbreaks. These will be visited by vaccinators as soon as NHS staff are allowed to do so, it said. According to a poll by the National Care Forum (NCF), approximately 95% of care homes in England have been able to get all their residents vaccinated. The sample consists of 749 care homes run by 48 care providers in England, that were asked by the NCF about the availability and take up of COVID-19 vaccination by residents and staff in care homes for older people on the 25-26 January.
NHS Ready For New Vaccine Roll-Out, Announcing Care Homes Will Be The First To Receive Them (10/11/2020)
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said, the NHS is ready to start providing the new coronavirus vaccine "as fast as safely possible", and that it is "absolutely a possibility" that it could be available by Christmas, expecting a mas roll-out early next year. On Monday, early results from the world's first effective coronavirus vaccine showed it could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid. The vaccine has been developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech and is one of 11 vaccines that are currently in the final stages of testing. The companies now plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of November - and a limited number of people may get the vaccine this year. The UK has already ordered 40 million doses - enough to vaccinate up to 20 million people as each person will need two doses for it to work effectively. But Boris Johnson has warned people not to "rely on this news as a solution" as it is still "very, very early days". Older care home residents and care home staff are at the top of a list from government scientific advisers of who would get immunised first, followed by health workers. Mr Hancock said NHS staff would go into care homes to vaccinate residents, as well as setting up vaccination venues. Children would not be vaccinated, he said. The vaccine will not be released for use until it passes final safety tests and gets the go-ahead from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The safety of the Pfizer vaccine has still to be proved, before it gets regulatory approval. Then there are issues of who gets it and how best to use it. This will depend on some of the scientific questions that remain: whether the vaccine is able to stop transmission rather than just prevent disease, how long immunity lasts and whether it works with older people. The answers should emerge as the vaccine starts being rolled out. A limited number of people may get the Pfizer vaccine this year.
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