Government Vaccination Plan - Will the Ambitious Target Be Met?
The UK is now in its third lockdown in less than a year, with restrictions introduced on a national scale. Just before the lockdown Boris Johnson made a pledge that all care home residents should be vaccinated by the end of January. However, following the announcement of a new national lockdown, that list has now nearly tripled in size with the introduction of front-line health and care workers to be vaccinated by mid-February.
All in all, the Prime Minister wants 13 million people vaccinated, which medical advisers have said will stop 99 per cent of hospitalisations. This is critical considering the situation we now find ourselves in, with record numbers of cases being detected since the start of the pandemic and the Government increasing England to a new “level 5 tier” system, which could see the NHS being overrun.
The plan seems to be that the Government will vaccinate as many vulnerable people and healthcare workers as possible, whilst the rest of the country isolates in their homes to help bring the cases down. However, at this point, only 1 million of those jabs have been received and, in addition to this, the UK has plants that have made somewhere around 15 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – that, as the BBC has reported, is less than ministers said would be made at this stage (early in the pandemic they said there would be 30 million by the autumn).
Based on this news, it would seem the Government is not entirely on track but, alongside the lockdown announcement earlier this week, came the news of the first jab of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine administered to Brian Pinker, a Dialysis patient as well as a retired maintenance manager. The introduction of this vaccine gives us new hope that Boris Johnson’s target will be met, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock adding it was a "pivotal moment" in the UK's fight against the virus, as vaccines are key to curb infections and allow restrictions to be lifted.
What’s also important to remember is that whereas the Phifzer/BioNTech vaccine must be stored at –70C in special fridges, the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at regular fridge temperatures, so the logistical plans are a lot simpler in terms of transport and storage.
Either way, we’re all going to have to sit and wait this one out and, we at Dementia, Care & Nursing Home Expo, hope that the Government does reach its target and discussions of easing of lockdown restrictions can begin shortly after the vaccinations have been received.