Big questions remain over how to vaccinate care home residents

The logistics of vaccinating limited mobility care residents could be a challenge. Credit: PA

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 government has not yet finalised its plan for vaccinating care home residents. Credit: PA

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:

All three vaccines require two separate inoculations to be effective.