Care homes face longer wait for coronavirus vaccine as ‘unstoppable’ new strain rips through the sector
- Deadline for vaccinating care home residents faces delays as Covid spreads
- Department of Health said it was on track to offer jabs to residents by February
- But that represented a week’s slippage on NHS England’s rollout promises
The deadline for vaccinating care home residents appeared to be delayed again last night even as a surge of outbreaks ripped through the sector.
The Department of Health said last night it was on track to offer jabs to the most vulnerable in care homes by the end of the month.
But that represented a week’s slippage on NHS England’s promises this week that the rollout would be completed by January 24 ‘at the latest’.
Another week’s delay would be a huge blow to fearful families who said they were living in terror after Covid outbreaks in homes more than tripled in three weeks.
It comes as a care boss – who lost more than ten residents to a devastating outbreak – claimed the new variant is ‘unstoppable’.
Britain’s vaccination programme is ahead of schedule after more than 300,000 jabs were delivered in a single day. Some 3.2million doses have now been doled out
Boris Johnson said last night that almost 40 per cent of Britain’s care residents had had their first jab.
But outraged relatives have criticised the Government for not vaccinating care home residents more quickly.
On Monday a Mail survey of 28 care home providers – with 30,000 residents – found in 17 of them not a single resident had been vaccinated. The shocking figures prompted NHS England to pledge that care home residents should be vaccinated by the end of this week, or no later than January 24.
Public Health England said most new Covid-19 cases were in care homes, with 977 outbreaks of respiratory conditions in the week ending January 10 – with 739 confirmed as coronavirus.
A member of the medical team administers a Covid-19 vaccine injection at the NHS vaccination centre in Robertson House, in Stevenage
Infections have shot up from the week ending December 17, when just 305 outbreaks occurred, with 227 confirmed cases. Natalya James, manager of Hyperion House in Fairford, Gloucestershire, where ten residents died, said: ‘In care homes the spread is like nowhere else. It was completely unstoppable.’
Nadra Ahmed, of the National Care Association, said: ‘We’ve got providers telling us they haven’t been notified. We’ve got so many people contacting us saying, ‘We haven’t been contacted, we’re desperate’.’
A Department of Health source said January 31 was always the target but the NHS England deadline of January 24 was a mechanism to ensure the rollout was completed by the month’s end.
Pupils whose GCSE and A-level tests have been cancelled due to Covid will sit ‘mini exams’
PUPILS whose GCSE and A-level tests have been cancelled due to coronavirus are still likely to sit ‘mini exams’ – with results days brought forward from August to July.
The papers will not necessarily be compulsory and teachers could pick questions from a ‘menu’ to ensure that pupils are equipped to answer them, the Department for Education’s joint consultation with exam regulator Ofqual said.
Teachers will be free to ‘take account of other evidence’ when formulating grades, it is proposed.
But the consultation also suggests that teachers will be expected to mark the papers – an idea unlikely to go down well with the profession.
Geoff Barton, from the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that the ‘papers will need to be exceptionally well designed and this will be a huge challenge given that time is short and nothing like this has been attempted before’.
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