One of the UK’s largest social care providers has revealed that just a fifth of elderly people it cares for at home have received a coronavirus vaccine.
A fifth of more than 10,000 older people requiring care at home have been vaccinated, according to data from Cera.
More than half (55%) of this group is over 80 and the remainder are in their 60s and 70s, the provider said.
Without urgent action it fears they could be forgotten as the rollout progresses to younger cohorts.
It said many older people are too frail or are managing conditions preventing them from travelling to vaccination appointments, others are anxious about catching the virus if they attend a hospital or GP site, and some have fallen prey to disinformation.
More than 15 million people across the UK have received their first dose of a vaccine, and the over-65s, 16 to 64-year-olds with underlying health conditions and carers are now being contacted.
Cera chief executive Dr Ben Maruthappu called the progress a “very welcome piece of good news”.
He continued: “However, for several weeks now we have been warning of a vaccination blind spot among older people requiring home care, and today’s data from our own network and the vaccination rollout itself confirm that unfortunately this is still the case.
“Just one in five of our more than 10,000 users have had their jab, and these are some of the most at-risk people from the virus.
“We believe the remaining percentages to be vaccinated from priority groups one to four strongly correlate with stories we’re hearing from our own network – that those yet to receive the vaccine are either unable or unwilling to attend remote appointments, and aren’t receiving the vaccine in their home with urgency.
“If we don’t address this deficit as soon as possible, these people risk being forgotten as the rollout shifts focus to younger, less clinically vulnerable groups.”
Last week the NHS said it would pay GPs an additional £10 for every Covid vaccination they deliver to someone who cannot leave their home.
Cera welcomed the incentive, but said these efforts need to be scaled up across the UK urgently, in combination with more mobile vaccination units.
Another home care group, CHD Care at Home, said 91 of the 180 people it cares for in Surrey and south London have received a vaccine.
They range in age from 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.
Head of hospitality and communications Shaleeza Hasham said: “The barriers that have been preventing a proportion of our CHD Care at Home clients from receiving the vaccine unfortunately remain.
“Although vaccination appointments are becoming available, these are still being offered at incredibly short notice to people of restricted mobility, who have limited means of transportation and no way of accessing them.
“We’re also hearing of clients receiving phone calls or letters from their GPs who don’t have the capacity to pick up the phone or understand the letter, and this is causing them to miss out.
“Overall, there still needs to be better communication and joined-up working between the respective agencies to support the elderly at home in receiving their vaccinations.”
Doreen Jobling, 94, from Market Weighton in East Yorkshire, is housebound due to her immobility and has yet to be notified of when she might receive the vaccine at home.
Her daughter Sue Jobling, 64, said she was “absolutely disgusted” by the lack of information she has received, claiming she had tried several times to get answers from her GP surgery.
“I had a phone call on 4 January offering her the vaccine but that was to travel 10 miles. I obviously had to turn it down and remind them she is housebound.
“Having been told originally they couldn’t go and do it because they don’t have the correct vaccine, I found it extremely annoying to be told they had been to the care home just round the corner from Mum.
“If they can travel to one surely they can travel to others.”
The PA news agency has sought a response from Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the practice.