Seven care homes in England have so far been given the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Figures suggest people in care, despite being identified as the most urgently in need, only account for 0.3 per cent of the 613,000 people who received the jab.
Last week Matt Hancock said the Chelsea Pensioners had been given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but the health secretary neglected to mention only seven other care homes have so far been vaccinated, reported The Times.
‘The vaccine rollout in care homes in England began on December 16, with hundreds of residents vaccinated across seven care homes in Slough, Aintree, Herne Bay, Thanet, Chalfont St Peter, Droitwich and Cheltenham as well as the Chelsea Pensioners,’ the department revealed on Christmas Eve.
D-Day veteran and Chelsea Pensioner Bob James Sullivan, 98, was injected with the coronavirus vaccine at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Wednesday, December 23. Just seven other care homes have so far received the vaccine
Last night charities warned ‘the cruellest of lotteries’ remains, with tens of thousands of families stuck in limbo due to a patchwork of different visiting rules at care homes across the country.
Care home residents, frontline NHS staff and the over 80s were identified as priorities by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation.
Despite promising regular updates on the scale of the roll-out, the Government did not give a breakdown of the latest total of 616,933 by recipient.
Last week Matt Hancock (pictured) said the Chelsea Pensioners had been given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but the heath secretary neglected to mention only seven other care homes have so far been vaccinated
Decked out in full PPE Nicky Lovett, 58, finally got to see her 77-year-old mother Jean Davis at her nursing home in Cheltenham. Wentworth Court Nursing Home in Cheltenham was one of the first homes in the country to offer the fast-track lateral flow antigen test
The UK’s 11-point vaccine priority list
1. Older adults resident in a care home and care home workers.
2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers.
3. All those 75 years of age and over
4. All those 70 years of age and over
5. All those 65 years of age and over
6. High-risk adults under 65 years of age
7. Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
8. All those 60 years of age and over
9. All those 55 years of age and over
10. All those 50 years of age and over
11. Rest of the population
Source: Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
Mr Hancock’s claim ‘hundreds’ of residents were given the vaccine makes it clear the proportion of care homes given the jab is a small percentage of the total.
The department appeared to reveal it could take months for smaller care homes to receive the vaccine, after larger homes were given priority.
‘Larger care homes with 50 to 70 beds will be prioritised first, with around 2,900 care homes of this size in England,’ they said.
In England 521,594 people have been vaccinated, 56,676 in Scotland, 22,595 in Wales and 16,068 in Northern Ireland.
Yesterday, a further 570 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 70,195, according to the Government dashboard – which only counted figures for England on Christmas Day.
The new Tier Four restrictions – now affecting 23 million people – include a ban on ‘close-contact’ visits, dealing a devastating blow to families hoping to be reunited with loved ones in care homes over the festive period.
Other relatives had hopes of Christmas visits crushed because some local authorities are advising against the use of rapid lateral flow tests amid concerns over their accuracy.
At the beginning of December, the Department of Health said all care home residents would be allowed two visits a week by Christmas thanks to the roll out of rapid tests.
Based on guidance (pictured) from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the first people in the UK to get any new vaccine will be people in care homes and those who work in them
It comes as a new antibody treatment with the potential to give people instant immunity after being exposed to Covid-19 and prevent illness is being trialled by British scientists in the UK.
The drug would offer immediate and long-term protection to patients when it would be too late to offer a vaccine, potentially saving thousands of lives.
It could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients, care home residents and university students to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Diane Schofield takes a lateral flow test as she arrives for a Christmas Day visit with her friend Mary Kirby, who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary, at Aspen Hill Village care home in Hunslet, Leeds
Diane Schofield embraced her friend Mary Kirby during a Christmas Day visit yesterday. Experts said photographs of emotional reunions show the importance of hugs and hand-holding, warning that the continued isolation of residents will cost lives
British scientists from the University College London Hospitals NHS (UCLH) have already injected ten people with the drug as part of the new trial called Storm Chaser, with an aim to trial the new treatment on 1,125 people globally. The participants received two consecutive doses of the drug.
They hope the treatment would provide protection from Covid-19 for between six months to a year.
Experts said photographs of emotional reunions show the importance of hugs and hand-holding, warning that the continued isolation of residents will cost lives.
Charities urged the Government to keep care home visits at the top of their agenda in the New Year, including by examining ways of restarting them in Tier Four areas.
The smile that said it all
Care home resident Bob Benyon was grinning from ear to ear when he was reunited with his son Robert in time for Christmas.
Robert, from Flintshire, north Wales, visited his father at Orchard Manor care home in Chester. He said: ‘I was starting to wonder whether or not my dad recognised me after we were stuck with visits through a window.
Bob Benyon was reunited with son Robert
‘But as soon as I got into see him, he had this big grin on his face and I knew then he knew who I was. It was a massive relief.
‘I was very close to my dad growing up, we’d always go to football matches together. So it’s been very hard being apart.
‘It’s such a relief that now I can have a quick test then go in and properly communicate with him.’
Fiona Carragher of Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘After a year filled with relentless tragedy and loss, and people in care homes being deprived essential contact from their families, it’s heartening to see that some have received a gift that money can’t buy – a long overdue hug from their loved one.
‘In recent weeks we have seen that meaningful visits can happen safely through regular testing and other precautions such as PPE.
‘We thank the Daily Mail for joining forces with us to persistently campaign and take a stand for the thousands of people with dementia in care homes and their families who have been worst hit by this pandemic.
‘The welfare of people with dementia must be at the top of the agenda in the crucial months ahead, not least in ensuring that care home residents in Tier Four are not left behind.’
Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: ‘Amidst so much worry and gloom, it’s been fantastic to see the happiness, and sometimes the sheer relief, of all those older people and families who have been able to meet each other again.
‘If anyone was wondering whether “visiting” really matters, all they need to do is to watch the videos, or talk to any of the older people and their loved ones who have come face to face in recent days, often for the first time in many months.
‘We have been reminded during this pandemic that the capacity to touch and to hug is unbelievably precious, something we are unlikely ever to take for granted again.
‘The Daily Mail deserves huge credit for championing safe visiting, standing alongside older people and their increasingly desperate loved ones, and pressing for humanity and common sense.
‘I’m sure the campaign has made a difference and helped Government to see the light.
‘It’s not job done yet as hundreds of thousands continue to wait in limbo, but I know the paper will keep at it until the tide has unmistakably turned.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘In the face of a new variant of the virus, we have acted to protect those most at risk in care homes.
‘Visits to care homes can still take place in Tier Four with arrangements such as substantial screens or visiting pods but, for the safety of loved ones, close-contact indoor visits supported by testing cannot take place in Tier Four areas.’
Amazing! A joyous embrace, a coffee… and a catch-up on all the family gossip
This is the emotional moment a mother hugged her daughter for the first time since March.
Pat Clarke, 85, leapt up from her chair the moment she saw Bairbre Duncan last week.
Pat Clarke, 85, leapt up from her chair the moment she saw Bairbre Duncan last week
Bairbre had just undergone a lateral flow test and, after testing negative, was able to go into her mother’s room and give her a cuddle.
Mrs Clarke, who lives at Manor House care home in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, said: ‘It was just amazing to see my Bairbre. Although we are beautifully cared for in the home, there’s nothing like getting a hug from family.’
Her daughter said: ‘I feel so lucky to have got in a visit with mum just in time for Christmas.
‘We don’t know what’s going to happen now so I feel very fortunate to have seen her in her room and held her hand.
‘We’ve had window visits and things like that but there’s nothing like sitting down to have a cup of coffee together and discuss all the family gossip!’
Lovely to see Mum again
Decked out in PPE, Nicky Lovett was delighted to see her mother Jean Davis, 77, at Wentworth Court in Cheltenham face-to-face for the first time in nine months.
Nicky Lovett reunited mother Jean Davis, 77, at Wentworth Court in Cheltenham
Vulnerable residents at the home, who have dementia, have not had outside visitors since March. This has helped the home stay Covid free since April.
Mrs Lovett, 58, said: ‘It’s been hard, myself and my brother decided not to Skype during lockdown as we thought she wouldn’t understand why we couldn’t come in.
‘It was just so lovely to be able to see mum again and have a chat and a hug.’
Home manager Gez Ossai said: ‘The lateral flow test has been brilliant and made it possible for us to reunite so many families.’