Two groups of GP surgeries in east Kent were among the first in the country to start giving the Covid-19 vaccine in care homes.
Herne Bay Primary Care Network (PCN) and Margate and Mocketts Wood PCN successfully vaccinated 109 staff and 104 residents between them earlier this month. Their experience helped shape a national process for the successful administration of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in care homes which is being rolled out across the country.
Care home resident Daphne, 92, who received the vaccine, said: “Having the vaccine is so important to me, it will make such a big difference. The process was beautifully organised.”
And Laurie, 90, said: “Having the vaccine was crucial to be protected from Covid-19 and it is very reassuring. Apart from a little ache in my arm, I have had no side effects.”
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has complex storage and transportation requirements with a limited time to use the vaccine after it is removed from frozen storage. The two PCNs teamed up to rise to the challenge of working through logistics and successfully transporting and administering the vaccine within the required timescale and in the right conditions.
Dr Jeremy Carter, from Park Surgery, Herne Bay, said: “As we all know, the impact of Covid-19 on care homes has been devastating. In Herne Bay we have nearly 1,000 care home beds.
“Our care home residents are the most vulnerable in the pandemic, and to be able to take part in such an important piece of work, to enable a much wider national roll out of early vaccination to these most vulnerable patients, was truly a privilege.”
Dr Roxana Didehvar, GP and Frailty and Care Home Lead, Herne Bay PCN, said the logistics of transporting the vaccine into the home and keeping it at the correct temperature produced some challenges. She added: “We worked well together, and felt confident in our ability to deliver this task. We all felt proud to play a part in this vital and momentous work.”
At both sites, care home staff were given the vaccination first and then taught how to administer it to others. Teams ran through logistics and preliminary checks, and concluded that preparation and planning were vital for the safe and efficient delivery of the vaccine, and to avoid waste.
Dr Venkat Reddy, Lead GP for the vaccination project for Mocketts Wood and Margate PCN, said: “We had just five days to prepare and we worked together to find solutions. It wasn’t as complicated as it first seemed. The CCG’s Medicines Optimisation Team was extremely supportive. We are very proud to have been part of this.”
Care home manager, Tracy Tremble, said having the vaccine had lifted spirits in the home and Healthcare Assistant Tracey Pointer said: “Once fully vaccinated I will be able to see family that I haven’t been able to see due to my job.”
More vaccination services across Kent and Medway are now working with their local care homes to vaccinate residents and staff. The approval of a second Covid-19 vaccine will now help us to deliver vaccinations across more than 600 care homes in Kent and Medway.
The latest information on the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Kent and Medway is available at www.kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk/covid19vaccine