The NHS has now offered the COVID-19 vaccine to residents at every eligible care home with older residents across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.
In a major milestone for the NHS vaccination programme, nurses, GPs and other NHS staff have offered the life-saving jab to people living in care homes with older residents.
The small remainder have had their visits deferred by local directors of public health for safety reasons during a local outbreak. Those homes will be visited and jabbed as soon as NHS staff are allowed to do so.
While in a small number of cases a severe outbreak of COVID-19 will have prevented a team from visiting, any care home yet to be visited for a vaccination clinic is going to have one booked in as soon as it is deemed safe by local public health protection clinicians to do so. Vaccination staff are also returning to homes that have been covered to jab any resident who was unable to have it during the previous visit because they had recently had COVID-19 or for other clinical reasons.
Vaccinating Fylde Coast care homes has been led by the care homes teams run by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Team manager Alison Ricchuiti said: “It has been an emotional journey. There have been a few operational challenges along the way but everyone in the team has delivered the programme of work with professionalism, excellence, resilience and positivity.
“All four vaccination teams have worked exceptionally hard to ensure they have vaccinated most residents and staff to protect them against this horrible virus.
“On the first day I witnessed the anticipation on residents’ and carers’ faces when we delivered the vaccine to the at the Annacliffe Rest Home on the 29 December. I am always proud to be a nurse but none more so than this first day as I knew we were going to save lives by delivering this vaccine to care homes.
“I could see the relief on the care home staff and residents and could only imagine the relief to families was equally huge.”
The vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history, has got off to a strong start with more than eight million doses administered nationally.
Jane Scattergood, director of nursing and quality for NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre CCGs, said: “I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout for their hard work and dedication in recent weeks, as it is because of their tireless efforts that thousands of people have already been vaccinated, including care home residents, and as a result, we are a vital step further in our fight against COVID-19.
“I am delighted with the progress made 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.
“I would urge anyone who is offered the vaccine to come forward.”
Prime Minister Boris 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 8.9 million people with a first dose so far, our rollout programme will only accelerate from here on.”
The Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), which sets the priority groups for vaccination, made older adult care home residents and their staff high priority groups due to being at particular risk from COVID-19 because of their age and frailty.
Vaccinations are now being administered at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, nine GP-led services, three pharmacy-led sites and and a large-scale vaccination centre at Blackpool Winter Gardens, with more coming online over the coming days and weeks.