Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Nadhim Zahawi scrutinised over reports care homes jabs 'aren't happening'
11 January 2021, 11:44 | Updated: 11 January 2021, 13:13
Nadhim Zahawi has been scrutinised by LBC’s Nick Ferrari amid claims vaccinations in care homes are “just not happening”.
Nick cited a report in the Daily Mail which said 17 out of 28 care home providers contacted by the paper had still not had a single resident vaccinated.
Vaccine Deployment Minister Mr Zahawi defended the Government’s record in getting the vaccine into care homes, insisting they are the “number one priority”.
He said: “All care home residents and care home staff will be vaccinated by latest mid-February."
Care homes were devastated during the first wave of coronavirus and cases in the setting have dramatically increased in recent weeks.
Figures from Public Health England show outbreaks more than doubled during the New Year period, with 503 reports in the week of January 3, up from 304 the week before and 236 the week before that.
An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19.
However, since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in the UK in early December, the Government has been slow to roll out the jab in care homes.
It needs to be stored at –70C, making it difficult to distribute, however the Oxford/Astrazeneca one can be stored in a normal fridge.
Mr Zahawi said since the Oxford vaccine is “much easier to deploy” and has now also been approved for use, the vaccination programme in care homes can be accelerated.
But he added it was only approved last week so some care homes have still not yet been reached.
Mr Zahawi said the Government is now “moving rapidly” to get care home residents and workers vaccinated.
He said: “We’ve only just got the Astrazeneca vaccine approval, we started last week... already some areas have vaccinated all their care homes, other areas haven’t started yet so depending where you are in the country that will change rapidly.
He added: “That is the absolute focus of the NHS because it’s the number one priory, of the four cohorts that is the number one priority.”