The chief nurse for adult social care has urged nursing staff in the sector to take up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine “as soon as it comes”.
Professor Deborah Sturdy’s appeal to the workforce comes as vaccines are rolled out to a wider group of social care professionals.
“I know so many have been looking forward to the day a vaccine arrives”
While the first priority had been staff working in care homes for older adults, the vaccination programme has now been extended to other frontline social care workers as well as NHS staff who fall under priority group two.
The government has published new “standard operating procedure” guidance to support the organisation of the complex programme for social care.
The extension of vaccines to all patient-facing social care workers is part of the government’s ambition to offer a first dose to everyone in the top four priority groups by the middle of February.
Professor Sturdy, who started in the new chief nurse role in December, said: “Working on the frontline throughout the pandemic I have seen the fantastic health and care workforce rise to countless challenges to go the extra mile for those they care and support, and I know so many have been looking forward to the day a vaccine arrives.
“The guidance will help providers, councils and those on the frontline, social care nurses, home care workers or personal assistants understand what steps they have to take.
“I would urge everyone to take up the offer of a vaccination as soon as it comes, to give you the protection you need to do the job you have been doing so brilliantly throughout the pandemic.”
Local authorities are expected to work in partnership with employers and vaccination programme leaders in the area to ensure all eligible staff can get a jab.
“This shot in the arm will give staff the protection they need to work our way out of the pandemic”
Where possible block bookings will be made at hospital hubs and vaccination centres for social care staff to receive their vaccines, taking into account working patterns of frontline workers.
Alternatively, social care staff will be able to self-book an appointment through their local general practice or community pharmacy if that is preferred.
All eligible staff will receive a letter with information about how and when they will receive their vaccination.
Sir David Pearson, chair of the Covid-19 Social Care Support Taskforce, said the programme was going to be challenging due to the set-up of the social care system and the array of different providers.
Vaccines will be offered to frontline social care workers regardless of whether they work for the local council, the NHS, the private sector, or a third-sector employer.
“The social care sector is even more diverse than the NHS and involves a significant number of different employers, including individual service users – this makes any vaccine rollout challenging,” said Sir David.
“Throughout the pandemic we have strengthened relationships with local authorities, service users and providers and this additional guidance will play an important part in rolling out the crucial vaccine to staff working across the sector.
“This shot in the arm will give staff the protection they need to work our way out of the pandemic and back to life as we knew it.”