Covid-19 Vaccination Information from Wessex Care
Today we heard the great news about the first vaccination using the Pfizer vaccine and we want to give you the latest information we have on this.
You may have seen some mixed messages regarding the priority or not for care home residents and staff which has changed from having top priority to not and then back to where we are today which is top priority again. The reality is as follows;
The Pfizer vaccine is delicate and does not like having more than four transitions, it takes two transitions to get it to the UK key distribution sites. It needs to be kept under -70⁰, requires mixing prior to being ready for inoculation and does not like being knocked. All of which affects how and where it can be provided to the vaccination recipient.
Roll out in Wiltshire we understand (subject to change) will start, phase 1, at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and be provided to Care Homes with over 50 residents within a 20-mile radius of the hospital. Staff will need to travel to the hospital as the delicacy, as described above, precludes it moving currently to the multiple care home settings. Phase 2 will bring the vaccine to other Hospital including Bath and Salisbury followed by several more sites in Phase 3.
It is to be provided to care homes with over 50 residents initially as they have been identified as higher risk services than smaller homes. For us this means that Kimberly West & East staff will probably be offered this first as although they are separate Care Centres they are registered as one with CQC. Time scales seem to suggest vaccination availability, locally, just before Christmas.
Please note the Pfizer vaccines and the Oxford both require the recipient to have two inoculations with a circa 20-day period between before they then begin to develop levels of immunity. Please note that this vaccine and we understand the next vaccines have not been tested for use during pregnancy so no one should agree to vaccination if they consider they maybe or are pregnant.
It appears therefore likely that resident’s vaccination will commence when the Oxford vaccine is available, as it is a more robust vaccine, which we are informed could be approved for use within the next 2 to 4 weeks. However, there may be provision for some residents who are able independently or with support to attend the vaccination sites to do so. We have also attached for your reading the government information we received yesterday on vaccination which we hope provides some clarity on any concerns you have as a member of staff, resident or family member on agreeing to be vaccinate or agreeing on behalf of your loved one.
We would strongly recommend everyone who is able to be vaccinated is vaccinated at the earliest opportunity as the quicker we can get significant percentages of residents and staff vaccinated the quicker we / you will be adding a significant layer of protection to our most vulnerable residents, to yourselves and your families, and we can start to make some significant developments on the visiting front.
We would again caution that even with vaccination it will be sometime before there is evidence about its effect on transfer as different vaccines provide different types of protection and although you may be vaccinated and protected it will not always mean that you cannot catch it and continue to spread it so we have to remain vigilant and cautious and we do not expect to see any changes in visitors and staff current PPE requirements for many months.
However, on a more positive note it should allow us to consider in room visits, longer visiting periods potentially with a greater range of people and a relaxation of the direct monitoring we currently have. Please do remember it is not in our service or individual nature to restrict visiting as we have been required to do. Our services are designed to be open, engaging and welcoming so please do be mindful of this when you are communicating with our staff, it’s not their fault we are where we are and they have dedicated the last 10 months to doing everything in their power to protect all our residents and community care customers while still ensuring they received a 24/7 service. They did not have the option to hold up at home or with family but instead came to work every day, many doing extensively more hours, some living away from their own children for months at a time to ensure our residents and community customers stayed safe. Please, please, be kind to them.
Importantly we wanted to be open and discuss the resourcing of what amounts to a significant and sustained requirement for staffing resources to provide:
- Testing of all staff on a twice weekly basis
- Testing of all residents on a weekly basis
- Testing of all family and friends designated visitors on each visit
- Testing of all other visitors professional, maintenance and otherwise
- Releasing staff on two separate occasions to be inoculated
All providers are currently in discussion nationally and locally as to how this is to be achieved as we simply don’t have the staff resource to provide this at present and even if funding is agreed we will have to significantly recruit and train new employees in these roles. We will do our best but we will not dilute our primary care and welfare responsibilities to provide what is essential a national Public Health programme.
We hope that being clear and direct about the information at our disposal and the challenges we face with the decisions we have come to, if not agreed with, are at least understood and informed. We understand the frustration the visiting situation can understandably cause and we will do everything in our power to make this Christmas as best as possible while protecting the highly vulnerable people it is our privilege to care for.
As always and as part of the Wessex Care family we are here to support you all; residents, families, friends and our fantastic employees throughout this special and challenging festive period. Let’s focus on the amazing news that the vaccine is coming and, with sufficient quantity, it will be a game changer.
Merry Christmas and a better New Year to you all,
Matthew, Pauline, Jodie & Christian