Chief nurse: Care home residents could get Covid vaccine by mid-February

Lisa Nobes, chief nurse of the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs Picture: IESCCG

Lisa Nobes, chief nurse of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group - Credit: IESCCG

All care home residents in Ipswich and East Suffolk could get the coronavirus vaccine by mid-February, the area's chief nurse has said.

The news comes after one care home owner said she was "becoming increasingly worried and frustrated" at the pace of the roll-out.

Sheila Jayarajan, who owns Witnesham Nursing Home, said giving care home residents the vaccine was a "matter of urgency" to "protect their lives and also redress the governments wrongs in the first wave".

The home was hit by a huge Covid outbreak which affected all but six of its residents in the first wave.

Witnesham Nursing Home Suffolk 2020 party

Witnesham Nursing Home residents pictured at an end of year party to celebrate how they have managed during the pandemic so far - Credit: Witnesham Nursing Home

Loss of taste was not officially recognised by the government as a symptom at the stage, meaning coronavirus crept into the home through no fault of its staff.

Three residents died from the illness as it  "went through the home", with Ms Jayarajan admitting she thought it might not survive the pandemic.

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The home now has regular testing to combat any further outbreaks - but Ms Jayarajan said speeding up the vaccination programme could be "possibly life-saving".

Lisa Nobes, chief nurse, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the vaccination programme "is certainly beginning to ramp up".

Suffolk GPs are pleading with patients not to call about the coronavirus vaccine after being overwhelmed with enquiries.

The aim is to vaccinate all care home residents against coronavirus by mid-February - Credit: PA

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She added: “We have been in touch with care homes to help them prepare for the vaccination of residents.

"This has already begun and will continue in earnest over the coming weeks, with the aim of reaching all care home residents by mid-February.

“Additionally, care home staff are being offered the opportunity to be vaccinated at the Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals.

“There is a huge amount of effort to get vaccinations done as quickly and safely as possible and I’d like to thank everyone for their work.”

Coronavirus outbreaks were recorded by 29 care providers across Suffolk in the week up to January 4, with Suffolk seeing more outbreaks in care homes in those seven days than in any week since the end of November. 

Despite an increase of outbreaks, care homes have seen a fall in deaths - with eight recorded in the week up to January 4. 

Infection rates, however, are rising sharply across the county.

Most recent figures show that 738 new positive Covid-19 cases were recorded in Suffolk in the week up to January 3.

This equates to 22.8% of all the cases recorded in the county during the pandemic. 

The NHS is also under huge pressure, with Ipswich and Colchester hospitals recording triple the number of Covid patients they had during the first peak.

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