Questions remain as to when those unable to attend centres will receive jab
Pam Franklin, 76, is waiting to receive the vaccine at her home
January 19, 2021
GPs are being urged to put vulnerable people, who will have to receive their jabs at home, at the “top of your lists” as the vaccination programme continues to roll out.
Pam Franklin is among this cohort of residents eligible for the vaccine, sending a message to GPs to not forget those at home who are unable to attend specific sites for their jabs.
The 76-year-old is clinically extremely vulnerable and receives 24-hour care in her home, after becoming disabled from having motor neurone disease for 30 years.
Despite the condition having paralysed her, Pam is able to communicate with her eyes using a specific computer device, and says she has a “very good quality of life” with her “excellent” team of care workers.
The Northolt resident said, “Since the pandemic began, I have shielded. I no longer go to the cinema, theatre, shopping or on holiday, although I have walked my dog occasionally with my PA.
“I have coped well until recently when the virus mutated and became more virulent, now I am extremely fearful because I know that if I get the virus it will kill me, I have no doubt about that…
“Recently I had a consultation call from my neurologist and, when I mentioned the vaccine, he told me that when it has been rolled out, I should nag my GP. I have emailed her three times now…and the first two emails she just said she will work to government guidelines.
She added, “I know that I am not alone in this position, being critically extremely vulnerable and needing a vaccine, so, please GPs everywhere listen and make all people like me go to the top of your lists to be vaccinated at home.”
Pam receives her care funded through Ealing social services, and is a member of social care campaign groups in Ealing, such as Direct Payment Users Group (DPUG) and Ealing Reclaim Social Action Group (ERSCAG).
Since Christmas 2018, Pam has struggled with her health further after having her “first ever” serious chest infection, being hospitalised with double pneumonia, pleurisy and sepsis.
She said, “It left my lungs weakened and I have been using a breathing machine every night since that time and slowly recovered to my usual energy. I can feel that my lungs remain weaker though.”
Campaigners are also pressing the case that housebound people must not be de-prioritised due to logistics of receiving the vaccine.
In the Government’s Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan, published on 11 January, it says local vaccination services will coordinate it for people unable to attend specific centres, such as by visiting care home residents, homes of housebound individuals and other residences such as people with learning disabilities or autism.
While ERSCAG welcomes the guidance, secretary Maggie Beirne added, “The question is how quickly and efficiently will this all happen?”
She said, “If someone is clinically eligible, we believe that the fact that they cannot leave their home, should not make them less of a priority for vaccination than those in care-homes, or generic age groups able to access vaccination centres.
“If people are in urgent priority categories, then ways must be found and guidelines given, to implement vaccination as soon as possible, not ‘in a few weeks’ time.’”
Government guidance has also highlighted domiciliary care workers among frontline social care workers to be offered the vaccine, and Pam is pleased to hear the news her carers will receive the vaccine in the next few weeks.
She added, “Great news and it will protect the people they care for too but…I am concerned that I might get the virus before the carers and I receive the vaccine, VERY concerned. They are so happy with the news but asked ‘what about me getting it too?’
“They are really nice women, I am fortunate to have them.”
While campaigners at ERSCAG welcomed the government guidance on social care workers in community settings being a priority group, they have also raised concern over the practicalities if care workers are not employed by care agencies or directly by local authorities.
They added, “How are GPs to know that some of their patients are care workers and fall into this priority category for vaccination?”
In a meeting of the North West London (NWL) Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) on 15 January, chief nurse Pippa Nightingale of the NWL Integrated Care System, revealed that housebound residents are the next up to be vaccinated from next week.
She explained that the target was to vaccinate the top four risk groups – that is anybody over the age of 75 and with severe health conditions – by 14 February.
According to the NHS boss the region is progressing “very well” with the over 80s, and aims to have the majority of care homes residents and care staff vaccinated by Sunday.
She added, “We will then move onto what is a more challenging group, that is our housebound patients across north west London…
“We start with our housebound residents next week and aim to have them all vaccinated by the 14th of February.”
The NHS is leading on the vaccine roll-out with Ealing Council supporting the process locally.
According to Ealing’s health chief, councillor Binda Rai nearly 50 per cent of over 80s have been vaccinated at Ealing Town Hall and the Dominion Centre so far. She added, “We have made great progress on nursing and care homes, and this work is nearing completion.
“We are hoping that all of our residents will come forward to get the vaccine as it continues to be rolled out over the coming months.”
An Ealing Council spokesperson added that “increased action” was being taken to ensure carers are vaccinated to reduce passing on the virus to housebound clients and others in the community.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter