Care home residents in Scotland will be vaccinated against Covid from 14 December, the health secretary has stated.
The Welsh Government yesterday said they are not yet able to vaccinate care homes, while NHS England said that the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine will begin in ‘hospital hubs’ because of the characteristics of the vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at minus 70 degrees most of the time, and can be kept at minus 2-8 degrees for five days only. It also comes in packs of almost 1,000 doses, and the other countries have said there are problems with splitting these doses.
However, Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said the devolved administration is allowing the Pfizer vaccine to be transported unfrozen for up to 12 hours, stored undiluted for up to five days and for it to be transported and kept in smaller pack sizes.
In a statement to Scottish Parliament today (3 December), Ms Freeman said the Pfizer vaccine ‘poses particular logistical challenges in vaccinating individuals close to their homes’, and presents a challenge in vaccinating ‘care home residents and our elderly citizens who live in their own homes’.
However, Ms Freeman added: ‘I am pleased to say that, over lunchtime today, following detailed discussions led by our chief pharmaceutical officer, we now have confirmation, on the basis of the stability data, that the Pfizer vaccine can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours and can be stored undiluted for up to five days. I am also pleased to confirm that, under certain conditions, we will be able to pack supplies down into smaller pack sizes.
‘Both those steps will make the vaccine more usable, with minimum wastage, for care home residents and our older citizens. It means that we will be able to take the vaccine to them, or close to them, and we will begin that exercise from 14 December. From next Tuesday, 8 December, we will begin vaccinating first the vaccinators themselves and then work our way through the first cohorts of health and social care workers.’
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said today that around 50 hospital hubs will begin administering Covid vaccinations to care home staff and the over-80s next week as part of a ‘phased’ rollout.