Families of care home residents worry about vaccine roll-out delays

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets staff at Chase Farm Hospital as part of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets staff at Chase Farm Hospital as part of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out - Credit: Royal Free NHS Trust

Almost 100 care homes have received the vaccine in Hertfordshire as families of residents in care homes have an anxious wait for their loved one's jab. 

Both Hatfield Residential and Nursing Home and Anson Court in Welwyn Garden City have had outbreaks of COVID-19 among staff and residents while the roll-out of the vaccine continues. 

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at Robe

Robertson House in Stevenage is one of a few mass vaccination centres in the UK - Credit: PA

A family member from Anson Court could not understand why this meant a life-saving medicine had been cancelled before it was given to residents a few weeks later. 

"As some of the residents and staff had tested positive, in all but one unit, the jab was cancelled," a man, who has an aunt in the home, told this newspaper. "Although there are many residents who have tested negative, they and any negative tested staff not in the one clear unit were not vaccinated. 

"This seems ludicrous given the age and risk level of the residents. If negative tested residents were given the vaccine, their risk profile after seven days would be, we are told, considerably less and it is therefore absolutely necessary given the close proximity of other positive tested residents.

"I want high-risk residents at Anson Court to be given the COVID vaccine as a matter of urgency as literally, their lives could depend on it."

This sentiment was further echoed by Lib Dem Herts county councillor Paul Zukowskji, who said he was "concerned" by the speed of the overall roll-out in care homes when people are dying and thousands of homes across Herts still need staff and patients vaccinated. 

Most Read

Cllr Zukowskji added that he knows of Welwyn Hatfield residents in care homes who have received letters telling them to "drive to North London", which he views as not helpful. 

"I don't really feel its happening at the speed it needs to in care homes," he said. "But I'm sure they are doing their very best to get it out. They are working constantly on this." 

Anson Court since vaccinated residents on January 16, according to a carer at the home. 

The delay was explained by East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which manages NHS services, who pointed out how difficult this has been. 

A spokesperson said: “It is our top priority to vaccinate care home residents and the staff who look after them as soon as supplies of suitable vaccines become available.

"So far, residents and staff in almost 100 care homes across Hertfordshire have been vaccinated, with staff working flat out to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible from this group.”

For background, the CCG also said when GPs receive a batch of vaccines, they seek and follow local and national public health advice and work with their local care homes to ensure that every dose of the vaccine is used promptly.

They also have to weigh the ability of care home staff to support the vaccinations, such as having written consent from residents, checking that individuals are well enough to be vaccinated that day and ensuring that there are enough members of staff to observe patients after their vaccinations. 

This means planned visits are postponed until a later date so the vaccine can be used elsewhere while consulting the care home, and if they are  postponed another date will be found to administer the vaccine again. 

If someone has been unwell with COVID-19, vaccinators must wait a full 28 days since that person tested positive for COVID before they can receive their first vaccination.

A spokesperson for the Hatfield home said via its management Sanctuary Care: “While we would not comment publicly on the medical condition of any of our residents or staff, we can reassure the families of residents that the safety of their loved ones is always our priority and that our commitment to providing the highest possible standards of care is unchanged.

"We also continue to closely follow the detailed public health guidance being given to care homes right across the country.”

A total of 1,575  people have died within 28 days of a positive test in Herts, with care homes, according to the ONS, making up 442 of those deaths. 

Anson Court declined to comment on the vaccine issues and directed this paper to the NHS.