The announcement, set to be confirmed in official statistics on 1 February, suggests the NHS has effectively met its target of delivering at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every care home resident by the end of January.
Although full details of the number of vaccinations completed in care homes have yet to be published, NHS officials said vaccination visits to all but a handful of care homes had been completed.
They confirmed that a ‘small remainder’ have seen jabs deferred by local public health directors because of local outbreaks of COVID-19 – and visits will be ‘visited and jabbed as soon as NHS staff are allowed to do so’.
Care home residents and staff are the top priority group identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – and the near completion of first-dose vaccinations in this vulnerable group was hailed as a ‘crucial milestone’ by prime minister Boris Johnson.
NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani thanked staff involved in the vaccine rollout for their ‘extraordinary work’ and ‘tireless efforts’.
There are around 300,000 residents in care homes for older people and around 400,000 staff in residential care in England – accounting for just under one in 10 of the total 7,792,996 first-dose COVID-19 jabs administered in England by the end of 30 January.
UK-wide, 8,977,329 people have now received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine after record progress on 30 January – with just under 600,000 people receiving their first jab on that day alone.
Protecting care homes
Dr Kanani said: ‘I want to thank my colleagues and everyone involved in the vaccine rollout for their extraordinary work in recent weeks, as it is because of their tireless efforts that millions of people have already been vaccinated, including hundreds of thousands of care home residents, and as a result we are a vital step further in our fight against COVID-19.
‘It has been a privilege to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable people and the wonderful people who look after them. Many have had little contact with the outside world throughout the pandemic and so it has been truly humbling for all, giving them hope and importantly protection against the disease.’
Mr 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 8.9m people with a first dose so far, our rollout programme will only accelerate from here on.’
COVID-19 vaccine campaign
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the progress on vaccinating care home residents and staff was ‘the result of amazing partnership working between our GPs, community nurses and care homes’.
NHS England offered GPs additional funding to speed up vaccination of patients in care homes over the past month, with a supplement of £30 for first doses administered Monday 14 December – Sunday 17 January, £20 for first doses administered Monday 18 – Sunday 24 January and £10 for first doses administered Monday 25 – Sunday 31 January. This fee will be paid on top of the basic £12.58 per dose agreed under the COVID-19 enhanced service.