A Nottinghamshire care home where coronavirus killed almost half of its residents has been told it might need to wait three months for a vaccine.
Bosses at Wren Hall Nursing Home say they’ve been told it could be February before jabs are deployed to the facility in the quiet village of Selston.
Residents will need to be shuttled to a hospital miles away in Nottingham or Mansfield if they want to get their jabs during the first wave of vaccinations.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s approved Covid jab needs to be stored at -70C and can only be transported in batches of 975 doses currently. This poses logistical challenges in trying to deliver it to care homes which house only several dozen people.
Wren Hall claims its residents, many of whom are mentally or physically disabled, are too frail to be moved out of the home, meaning they will have to wait months to be inoculated.
The care home, which is home to 54 residents, was devastated by the first wave of Covid-19 in spring, recording 23 deaths.
More than 20,000 care home residents have been killed by the coronavirus since the spring. An independent Commons review said care homes were ‘thrown to the wolves’ when tens of thousands of hospital patients were discharged into the sector without being tested for Covid.
The NHS is gearing up to launch its biggest mass-vaccination programme in history tomorrow, in what is being dubbed ‘V Day’.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has put care home residents and their staff at the top of its priority list for the vaccines. Though it has admitted ‘whether or not that is actually doable depends on deployment and implementation’.
Wren Hall Nursing Home in Selston, Nottinghamshire, has been told it might need to wait three months for a coronavirus vaccine. Pictured: A nurse cares for a resident sick with coronavirus in April
Wren Hall (pictured) was devastated by the first wave of Covid-19 in spring, with 23 out of its 54 residents dying to the disease
A graphic shows where the 50 NHS hubs, special jab centres and GP clinics offering the vaccine next week are located
A graphic demonstrates the ideal order of priority in which the vaccine will be rolled out, starting with residents in care homes
Wren Hall manager Anita Peet told the Nottingham Post: ‘We were going to be at the front to get the vaccine but now we are not.
‘We have got to transport everyone to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham or Sherwood Forest Hospitals in Mansfield then they can have the vaccine or wait until January or February time.
‘It is not good, is it? It is really frustrating, half the time it feels like the government is giving out information to look good and then it drops us all in it.
Don’t panic if you’ve not been contacted about the coronavirus vaccine, health chiefs say
Health bosses have told people over 80 not to panic if they have not been contacted about the coronavirus vaccine – as it is revealed that most of them will not get a jab until the New Year as mass immunisation begins.
Vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs from Tuesday – on what has been dubbed ‘V-Day’ by Matt Hancock – with people aged 80 and over, care home staff and NHS workers at higher risk at the front of the queue.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said people need to ‘hang fire’ and be assured that they have not been forgotten about, despite not receiving a letter or a phone call about the vaccine.
He told the PA news agency: ‘I don’t think people should expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.
‘And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’ in December.’ He added: ‘People really shouldn’t worry if they’re over 80 and they haven’t had a letter.
‘I’m sure there will be communications over the next few weeks that will tell people how quickly we are getting through the over-80s, and there will be plenty of communications to say, at the right point, if you haven’t had a letter then you should talk to your GP, but we are many weeks away from that.
‘So as I said people just need to hang fire and wait for a proactive communication.
‘If that hasn’t happened, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you, and we’ll certainly tell you at the point at which you need to start worrying if you haven’t been contacted, but that will be many, many weeks away.’
‘There is no way we can take all of them there. It is going to be a challenge. We really thought we would get it before Christmas but it does not seem to be the case.’
Health bosses believe there will only be ‘a limited’ amount of vaccines available for Nottinghamshire in December.
Dr Andrew Haynes, medical director for the Integrated Care System in Nottingham, said: ‘The vaccine has been approved but we don’t have it delivered and available to us. The logistics on that are ongoing and will be worked out.
‘The vaccine supply will drive the delivery volume so it is likely over the next few weeks we will have a limited supply available but we know there are two other vaccines going through the approval process and expect in the new year there will be other vaccines available.
‘We are planning to deliver 80,000 vaccines a week once this programme gets fully up, established and running.
‘It is important to understand this is not a programme where you can nip in and get a vaccine done. People will be called forward in cohorts. You will be given notification.’
A mass vaccination scheme treating over 80s, care home workers and high-risk NHS staff will begin tomorrow morning at 50 NHS hubs, special jab centres and GP clinics across the UK.
Initial doses of the vaccine – which was last week given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – are being prioritised for those most at risk.
Elderly patients, aged 80 plus, attending hospital for other appointments are likely to be first in line for the jab, followed by care home and NHS staff.
The UK has ordered 40million doses, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, and was expecting as many as ten million doses by the end of the year.
GP surgeries in England have been told to start staffing COVID-19 vaccination centres by December 14.
Fears that people would miss out in the first wave of immunisation because of short supplies were raised last week after the Government announced just 800,000 doses of the Pfizer jab had been sent to the UK.
But NHS bosses looked to quash concerns yesterday, with Saffron Cordery, the deputy CEO of NHS Providers, assuring the public that the country was expecting ‘up to four million doses’ by the end of December.
She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘We know that the first batch of 800,000 is making its way to the country now. We know that many of the 50 hospital hubs up and down the country have already received their allocation and more is expected today, so we know that that consignment is here.
‘We are expecting in the low millions, so up to four million doses, to be with us by the end of December. So that consignment and that distribution is really well on the way now.’