Tonight we revealed that GPs have already asked care homes to start gathering consent from relatives so that residents can receive a vaccination as early as next week.But there are some big questions about how the vaccination programme will work in homes.
Some of the basic questions homes are desperate to answer:1. Which vaccine is it?2. When exactly is it coming?3. What are the side effects?4. How effective is it i.e. does it provide sufficient immunity to allow immediate relaxation of visiting rules?I understand the government is still answering these questions itself. The type of vaccine is partly dependent on the regulator - which vaccine is approved and when.The timetable for homes is being worked on this week with no clear idea yet about how quickly it can be rolled out.
The biggest challenge is logistics. It is likely that the vaccine will mostly be administered by a mixture of GPs, practice nurses and specialist teams of vaccinating nurses (as per flu jabs).Carers may go to specialist centres for their jabs but are residents less able to do.The latter point is a hurdle. If it’s the Pfizer vaccine that’s rolled out first, for example, how do they physically get it into homes when it needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees? This is not something that has yet been answered.Which is why we find care homes generally quite reserved about the prospects of vaccinating before Christmas. Optimistic, but cautious.
What you need to know about each vaccine:
The University of Oxford and AstraZenica vaccine is up to 90% effective, can be stored at fridge temperature and is the cheapest, costing just £4 a dose. The UK government has ordered 100 million doses, with four million ready to go.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has up to 95% efficacy when it comes to immunisation, requires to be stored at -70C degrees and will cost £15 a dose. The UK has ordered 40 million doses, 10 million of which will be available by the end of the the year.
The Moderna vaccine is up to 94.5% effective, requires to be kept at -4C and will cost between £24 and £28 per dose. The UK has five million doses on order.
All three vaccines require two separate inoculations to be effective.