Government adviser says hospitals should vaccinate vulnerable patients

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NHS trusts should be administering the Covid-19 jab to elderly and vulnerable inpatients, a Government immunisation adviser has said.

Some trusts have been refusing to give their inpatients the vaccine.

Professor Anthony Harnden of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that it is “absolutely essential” that they do so.

“The JCVI are absolutely clear that those first top four priority groups that we’ve outlined are at considerable risk of dying from Covid,” Professor Harnden said.

“Therefore we believe that all four groups should be immunised as quickly as possible.

“Clearly, if people are going into hospital they are at increased risk of exposure, so it seems absolutely essential that they’re immunised if they’re in those groups before they go into hospital, and if they’re in hospital that the NHS and that hospital trust make every possible opportunity that they can to immunise them when they’re in.

“So I would fully support those people that are certainly elderly and vulnerable and who haven’t received their immunisation in a hospital to be immunised.”

A recent Sky News investigation found evidence of hospitals telling elderly non-Covid patients that they would only vaccinate outpatients and not those staying in hospital overnight.

Maria Thompson was told that her 80-year-old mother would not be vaccinated during her stay in a St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust facility, despite being admitted for an autoimmune illness.

The message said: “We are not yet vaccinating inpatients”, citing challenging over moving the Pfizer vaccine around the hospital and concerns about recording who had as yet received the jab.

Northampton General Hospital told Sky News in a statement that they would only vaccinate some patients once they had left the hospital.

It said: “As the first and second dose of the vaccine need to be delivered by the same team, some patients are being vaccinated in a community setting post-discharge so they don’t have to make a return journey to an acute hospital.

“This is safer and more convenient for those patients.”

There is no national NHS guidance preventing hospitals from vaccinating the vulnerable and elderly patients in their care. An NHS spokesman said that decisions had been taken locally.

“Decisions on who to vaccinate and where are made locally between clinician and doctor and in line with JCVI guidance,” the spokesman said.

“Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, nearly four in five over-80s have been vaccinated already and with over 1,300 vaccination centres now open, including local pharmacies and GP led sites, people will have the option of getting vaccinated at a location convenient to them and everyone should continue to accept an appointment once invited.”

Professor Harnden said that he was “optimistic” about the continued supply of the vaccine into the UK, stating that the country could expect to see a sharp drop in deaths by mid-March.



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