Covid booster vaccine uptake ‘worryingly low’ in Bucks care homes

Residents in Bucks care homes are less likely to have received the booster, than other older people in the county

By James Lowson
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 2:55 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd December 2021, 2:56 pm

Booster Covid vaccination uptake has been lower among care home residents in Bucks, than the rest of the county's elderly population.

New Data analysed by NationalWorld shows that just 69.8% of care home residents aged over 65 have received their booster vaccination in Bucks.

In comparison 84.3% of over 65s in Bucks overall had received their third vaccination protecting against the virus, by November 28.

Uptake for the booster vaccine has been lower in Bucks care homes in comparison to the general population

NationalWorld's data shows that 2,000 out of 2,864 care home residents aged over 65 in the county have received a booster.

The figures for the entire elderly generation in Bucks, shows 87,895 out of 104,114 people have taken the opportunity to be vaccinated again.

Overall figures for the entire country are very similar, 72.5% of the 316,000 residents living in such homes across England before November 28.

Data is significantly higher for the general population when it comes to the booster vaccine, 80.7% of people over 65 have received it.

NationalWorld concedes this number may be an underestimate as only 97% of care homes publish their booster data.

Age UK, a charity which supports older people, says the number of care home residents who have received boosters is “worryingly low”.

The general population the data refers to, also includes the group of care home residents - meaning the gap between those living in care homes and those in the community will be wider still.

The NHS figures on booster vaccines given to care home residents may be incomplete, missing some instances where a full third dose was given instead.

Full third doses are offered to severely immunocompromised people, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant recipients.

The NHS could not say how many care home residents were eligible for a third dose rather than a booster.

But care home managers are unable to log third doses in the Government’s vaccine tracking system, so may log them as boosters anyway.

Vaccination coverage for the general population is calculated based on mid-2020 population estimates by the Office for National Statistics.

Uptake in care homes however is based on more live snapshots, given the number of residents is in flux.

NHS England told NationalWorld it was inaccurate to suggest care home residents were not a priority, pointing to an announcement made at the start of November that it had offered booster appointments to all care homes, six weeks after the start of the rollout.

But Care England, which represents providers, said there may be many reasons for a resident not to be jabbed during initial visits to their home by a GP - such as having had Covid too recently - and that follow up visits were vital to catch everyone.

With GPs now busier than they were in earlier vaccine rollouts, that process could prove more difficult, it said.

Care England said the providers it represents have not been reporting concerns with the rollout, however.

The booster rollout began on September 16, with older care home residents among those who were instantly eligible to get vaccinated.

Following the emergence of the Omicron variant, the timescale for a booster vaccination has recently changed from six months to three.

This call was made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said: “The pandemic is far from over, and now with the concerns raised by the emergence of the Omicron variant it’s imperative that we protect those who are at greatest risk from the virus, who include care home residents and older people who are housebound.

“According to these statistics the numbers who have received their boosters so far are worryingly low.”