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UK vaccine hospital list revealed - but questions raised over access in care homes
3 December 2020, 07:31 | Updated: 3 December 2020, 11:17
Health officials have admitted "logistical problems" mean that care home residents will not receive the first doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine despite being top of the priority list.
Instead, health officials say care home residents will get the newly approved coronavirus vaccine as soon as it's "legally and technically possible".
It has emerged that emerged logistical issues meant he recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that care home residents and staff should be the top priority cannot yet be fully carried out.
It comes after the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Yes, you have seen the prioritisation list with care home residents being right at the top of that list."
However, despite JCVI advice and No 10 confirmation, care home residents will not be the very first to receive the new jab.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the jab has to be stored at such low temperatures that it can only be moved a few times.
Each pack of doses cannot be easily split and the 975 doses they contain would be too many for individual care homes, meaning the vaccine would be wasted.
Setting out the difficulties faced in delivering the vaccine into care homes, Mr Johnson said: “Of course we want to get it into care homes to protect the most vulnerable as fast as we possibly can.”
But, he said, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has not yet authorised those transporting the vaccine to the care homes to split the packs.
Sir Simon told a Downing Street briefing that the first people to receive the jab from 50 hospital hubs next week would be the over-80s, care home staff and others identified by the JCVI who may already have a hospital appointment.
GP practices will then operate local vaccination centres as more vaccine becomes available and, if regulators give approval for a safe way of splitting packs, care homes will receive stocks, he added.
Sir Simon said it would take until March or April for the entire at-risk population to be vaccinated.
But later in the briefing, he insisted the NHS was “raring to go” to vaccinate people in care homes, hopefully this month.
“Just as soon as we have the regulatory sign-off that we can do that, that we can get the jabs to the care homes so that the GPs and the nurses can arrive and give the care home residents that Covid vaccination, we will do that,” he said.
“We – at this point, with a fair wind – fully expect that that will be in the first tranche of priorities for vaccination during this month.”
And Wales' chief medical officer warned it would be "very difficult" to provide the Pfizer vaccine to numerous points of care and it will initially have to be delivered at a "small number of sites".
"There are, of course, other vaccines in the pipeline, the Oxford vaccine for example, which doesn't have such stringent requirements around temperatures management and control," Dr Frank Atherton said.
"As that comes online, as we hope, that will give us further ability to work our way through those priority lists.
"I can't give you an exact date or a timeframe but we are working through that process as quickly as we can because those elderly residents are one of our highest priorities."
Care homes also said they had received no clear communication or information on the practicalities of the imminent rollout for residents.
Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive, said he thinks it will be difficult for the vaccine to be used in care homes, adding: "In light of this, we need the Oxford vaccine to be approved as soon as possible and a vaccination programme put in place so that care home residents can be protected from Covid-19."
But BioNTech's Mr Marett said the vaccine could be transported by van to a care home and stored in a fridge for up to five days.
He explained: "We have stability studies now really supporting the evidence for being able to transport up to six hours at 2C-8C, so you can really take vials from the vaccination centre, one of the large ones, put them in a bag at 2C-8C, and take them to the care homes where they can be administered directly to the patients."
Instead of care homes receiving the vaccine first, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there are 50 hospitals across the UK already set up and waiting to receive it within days.
Mr Hancock said there would be "three modes of delivery" of the vaccine.
He said: "50 hospitals across the country are already set up and waiting to receive the vaccine as soon as it's approved, so that can now happen.
"Also vaccination centres, which will be big centres where people can go to get vaccinated. They are being set up now.
"There will also be a community rollout, including GPs and pharmacists.
"Now, of course, because of the -70C storage conditions of this vaccine, they will be able to support this rollout where they have those facilities."
Mr Hancock went on: "The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation is the clinical committee that advises the Government on the priority and who gets the vaccine in what order.
"We've been supporting people who are clinically extremely valuable to Covid throughout this crisis."
But he said a vaccine passport a vaccine passport "isn't part of our plan".
"While we know that this vaccine protects you from getting ill with Covid - we don't yet know how much it stops you transmitting Covid until we roll it out broadly," he said.
"We will, of course, be monitoring that very carefully.
"Therefore, we will vaccinate according to protecting the people who need the protection most, according to those who are vulnerable from Covid.
"So, that is part of the plan. The plan is to get this rolled out, according to the clinical prioritisation that the advisers will set out."
These hospitals will be first to receive the vaccine:
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals
Cambridge University Hospitals
Chesterfield Royal Hospital
Countess of Chester Hospital
Croydon University Hospital
Dartford and Gravesham Hospitals
Dorset County Hospitals
East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals
East Kent Hospitals
East Suffolk and North Essex Hospitals
Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
Great Western Hospitals
Guys & St Thomas NHS Trust
James Paget University Hospitals
Kings College Hospital
Princess Royal University Hospital, Kings
Lancashire Teaching Hospital
Leeds Teaching Hospital
Leicester Partnership NHS Trust
Liverpool University Hospitals
Medway NHS Foundation Trust
Mid and South Essex Hospitals
Milton Keynes University Hospital
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
Northampton General Hospital
North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
North West Anglia Foundation Trust
Nottingham University Hospitals
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Portsmouth Hospital University
Royal Cornwall Hospitals
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Sherwood Forest Hospitals
Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
St George's University Hospitals
The Newcastle Upon Type Hospitals
University College Hospitals
University Hospitals Birmingham
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire
University Hospitals Derby Burton
University Hospitals of North Midlands
University Hospitals Plymouth
United Lincolnshire Hospitals
West Hertfordshire Hospitals
Wirral University Teaching Hospital
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals
Yeovil District Hospital