Yorkshire health chief reveals difficulties of giving out Covid-19 vaccines in care homes

Giving the new Covid vaccine in care homes is “extremely complex” with a number of hurdles, the health chief in one of Yorkshire's biggest cities has said.

Greg Fell
Greg Fell

Director of Public Health in Sheffield, Greg Fell, said there is “a rapidly changing and moving situation” with different vaccines at different stages of being approved.

The early priority groups are care home residents and staff, over 80s, over 75s, over 70s, people who are extremely clinically vulnerable, over 65s then frontline health and social care workers.

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Mr Fell said: “These groups have been chosen because these people are at greatest risk of dying from Covid or from spreading infection to the most at risk people via the workplace.

“Vaccinating these groups in this order will have the biggest impact on saving lives. People who are not in one of these priority groups will also benefit though, as once the more at-risk people are vaccinated, the more potential there is for all of us to be able to slowly return to a more normal life.

“The logistics for delivering vaccination to these groups are extremely complex partly because of the requirements for the distribution and storage of the vaccine.

“Currently the approved Pfizer vaccine is not suited for use with care home residents because of the number of doses in each pack (over 900), the need to not waste vaccines and the need to store the vaccine at -70 degrees centigrade.”

“It could be used to vaccinate staff who could travel to a designated venue where a large number of people can be vaccinated.

“However this is a constantly changing picture and depends on the vaccines being approved as well as whether changes can be made to the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine to make it more appropriate for use in smaller settings.”

Mr Fell said despite the vaccine, people should still follow prevention measures. “Social distancing, limiting contact with others, face coverings and handwashing remain critical to controlling the disease over the next four to six months.”