GPs are being asked to do additional visits to care homes to boost Covid-19 vaccination uptake in in the most vulnerable.
An NHS England letter to PCN care home leads asked them to ensure additional visits are done and ‘that conversations are held with hesitant residents and staff’.
It follows figures showing that around one in five care home residents has not received a booster jab.
Data to the 12 December showed a reported rate of 77.9% of care home residents in England having had their third vaccination. For two doses the figure is 95%.
NHS England director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani and national clinical director of older people Dr Adrian Hayter have written to PCN care home leads to ask extra visits are done ‘where necessary’.
An NHS England primary care bulletin said the JCVI had been clear that those at greatest risk from Omicron must be prioritised for booster vaccination including those residing and working in care homes.
‘We know that over nine in 10 care homes have already received visits to offer vaccination, but we are asking that further visits are undertaken where necessary.
‘Additionally, we have stood up hospital hubs to vaccinate social care workers and asked vaccination sites to establish priority lines for those with valid ID.’
NHS England also ‘wrote to care homes themselves earlier this week’, the letter added, ‘emphasising their role in getting their residents and staff vaccinated and protected’.
‘Please take all steps to ensure this population receive the protection of a booster vaccination,’ the letter urged.
It comes as the Government has announced £22.5m in funding ‘and an army of vaccine ambassadors’ to encourage vaccination in communities in the run-up to Christmas.
The funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be provided to councils to run additional events and pop up clinics. Community vaccine champions are being deployed in 60 local authorities with the lowest uptake.
NHS England told GPs in September to prioritise offering Covid boosters to care home patients and staff by 1 November, with nine in 10 homes reached by 25 October.
But a spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Society warned that around 60,000 care home residents have not had a booster jab, many of whom have dementia.
James White, Alzheimer’s Society head of public affairs, said: ‘People with dementia have been worst hit by coronavirus, and delays in the rollout are potentially life threatening
‘The Government must urgently tell care home residents and their families when the booster target will finally be met.’
Covid vaccination is already mandatory for care home staff, although they were able to self-certify for a respite period of 12 weeks before requiring a medical exemption from a GP or specialist.