VACCINE UPDATE: Every care home resident in St Helens has now received their first jab
EVERY care home resident in St Helens has now received their first Covid jab, as the virus continues its assault on the sector.
Completion of the first wave of vaccinations for some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents comes as the NHS revealed it is due to cut vaccine supplies to the North West by around a third in February.
St Helens’ care homes have been devastated by Covid-19 over the past year, and the virus has started to tighten its grip once again on the sector.
Sherdley Court in Rainhill has been particularly impacted during the course of the pandemic, seeing a number of Covid cases and deaths.
Last week, patients and staff at the care home celebrated receiving their first Covid jabs by raising a toast.
However, the overall picture across the sector is looking particularly perilous once again.
New figures from St Helens Borough Council show the number of residents and staff to test positive has rocketed by almost 100 per cent.
The figures, which are gathered daily directly from each care home, show that 142 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the seven days up to January 22.
The week prior to this, 50 people tested positive.
Covid-19 has also spread into more homes, with cases reported in 14 settings, up from eight the previous week.
Out of the 12 deaths that occurred in the borough’s care homes in the week up to January 22, seven were suspected of being linked to Covid-19.
The first round of vaccinations in St Helens’ care homes had been due to be completed earlier this month, but was delayed due to a number of outbreaks.
And while care home residents have now received their first Covid jab, they are not scheduled to have their booster until 10-11 weeks after their initial dose.
In addition, not all care home staff have received their first vaccination.
Initial vaccinations of housebound patients have also not been completed, with GPs aiming to finish those group of patients by the end of the week, according to St Helens CCG.
The borough’s vaccination efforts have been given boost by the opening of a regional mass vaccination hub, which is being led by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
The hub, which is running at the Totally Wicked Stadium alongside the GP-led mass vaccination clinics, aims to vaccinate 1,000 people a day.
This could prove particularly challenging in weeks ahead after the NHS confirmed it is to cut Covid-19 vaccine supplies in the North West of England.
An NHS spokesman said the weekly supply will be reduced from 310,000 to 200,000 by the second week of the month for Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and South Cumbria.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that the decision has been taken to due to national shortages and the need for other regions to catch up with vaccinating their priority groups.
In response, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was “on track” to meet its vaccination targets.
“We are in close contact with all of our vaccine suppliers and remain on track to offer first vaccinations to the top four priority groups by mid-February,” a DHSC spokesman said.
“As we’ve said, supply is the limiting factor and as the public would expect we’re prioritising those most at risk from this disease across the country.
“Our approach so far has ensured we’ve vaccinated more people than any country in Europe.”
A St Helens CCG spokesman said all St Helens patients within these four priority groups are currently being contacted regarding appointments at the GP-led vaccination clinics at Saints.
Words: Kenny Lomas, Local Democracy Reporter
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