Around a third of people receiving help at home from a care provider in the South East have received a coronavirus vaccine, prompting concerns this cohort has been “neglected”.
Of the 180 people cared for at home by CHD Care at home in Surrey and south London, most of whom are over 70, 65 (36%) have been vaccinated.
Those receiving care range from age 30 to 104 and all are clinically extremely vulnerable, so fall into group four of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) vaccine priority list.
In comparison, 80% of residents at the group’s 13 residential care homes have received a vaccine, the provider said.
Nearly nine in 10 people aged 80 and over in England have received their first vaccine dose, and residents in every eligible care home have been offered a jab, NHS England said this week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said Britain remains on track to complete the vaccination of the top four priority groups by February 15.
CHD Care at home has raised concerns that the vaccine may be failing to reach elderly people who are unable to travel to vaccination centres or fear infection if they do.
Shaleeza Hasham, head of hospitality and communications at CHD Care at Home, said: “Whilst the vaccination rollout to care homes is making good progress and all residents have now received or at least been offered their first Covid jab, it is true that the housebound elderly and those receiving care at home have been somewhat neglected.
“Although vaccination appointments are becoming available, they are being offered at incredibly short notice to people of restricted mobility, who have limited means of transportation and no way of accessing them.”
She said it is “unrealistic and unfair” to expect people who may have been shielding throughout the pandemic to take public transport or make their own arrangements to get to a vaccination centre.
Using mobile vaccination units could remove some logistical constraints but also exacerbate fears around letting new people into people’s homes, she added.
She said: “Ideally, there should be better joined up working between the respective agencies to enable support workers, who have increased their visits to offset the lack of family contact, to support vaccination appointments.
“Otherwise, a process similar to the way in which flu vaccinations are delivered could be another option, whereby district nurses visit and deliver the vaccinations at home.
“This has already proven to be an effective method of vaccination delivery and would foster a sense of safety amongst those living within the community, so it’s difficult to understand why this isn’t being facilitated.”
One 85-year-old who receives care at home following a stroke said he felt angry to have not heard anything about his vaccine.
Martin Sussex said: “There are so many promises coming from our Government, yet we hear nothing.
“I don’t think the Government has really thought about people like me who can’t travel to receive their vaccine.
“We seem to have just been forgotten about, which is hugely disappointing as I can’t wait to have it.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Local vaccination services provide the largest number of locations to receive a Covid-19 vaccine and are best placed to support the highest risk individuals.
“These services also coordinate and deliver vaccines to people who are unable to attend a vaccination site, including revisiting care homes and the homes of people who are housebound.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “While everyone now lives within a 10-mile radius of a vaccine service, mobile units and local GPs are also working together to offer the vaccine to those who usually receive treatments at home, and anyone eligible who is housebound and thinks they haven’t been contacted by early next week can call their GP practice to arrange a visit.”