Care home residents have described how getting the Covid jab has given them “confidence” in the future, as the vaccine rollout continues.
It was the turn of 55 elderly and vulnerable residents at Andrew Cohen House in Stirchley, Birmingham, to get the Oxford and AstraZeneca jab on Wednesday.
The facility got less than 24 hours’ notice that its residents were next to get the vaccine, the home’s registered manager Sharon Grey said, adding they had been preparing for two weeks for this day.
She praised her staff who had “pulled together” and been supported by residents and their families, to keep Covid at bay.
Mrs Grey added the home had been “fortunate” with “only four or five residents” having developed coronavirus since the pandemic started.
Among those getting the jab was 78-year-old Michael Starr, a retired insurance salesman.
He said: “(It’s gives me) confidence to face what’s going on; you read and hear lots of people – doubters – saying ‘it’s only X per cent’ (effective).
“But if you get it (Covid) less, because you’ve had the vaccination – it’s about having confidence in tomorrow.
“At least you’re not going to have Covid as bad.”
Asked how his family felt that Mr Starr, who has eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, was having the jab, he joked: “Oh, they’re pleased to see the back of me.”
Describing Covid as a “terrible thing”, he said: “I am in a good place here, no complaints; they look after me, spoil me.”
Asked what he might say to any doubters who did not want the jab, he said: “There’s one or two in here, carers that is, who won’t have it – but it’s been well tested to the best of ability.”
Also getting her jab was mother-of-five and retired office cleaner, 91-year-old Mary Mamby, who said: “It’ll help a lot – and it means a lot.”
“I did want to have the vaccination, and it was very important to me really.”
She added: “I did tell my daughter last night on the phone, and she was very pleased – the family are very pleased.”
Meanwhile, home manager Mrs Grey said: “It’s been hard work, I think we all hoped we’d start 2021 a little bit brighter but we also knew, listening to the news pre-Christmas, that things weren’t going to start off great.
“The fear of the transmission rate and keeping our residents safe is there, every day. Every time we have a swab result, it’s there.
“But today is another step along the road, towards a brighter future.”
She added: “I know all the relatives are thrilled to bits, we’ve had some lovely emails saying ‘good luck for today’.”
Vaccinations have been taking place across Birmingham and Solihull within care homes for over a month.
They have been part of what the region’s health chiefs have described as a “tremendous effort” involving councils, the Birmingham and Solihull clinical commissioning croup, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS trust (UHB) and care homes managers.
Administering jabs at Andrew Cohen House was GP Dr Naresh Chauhan, who is from the neighbouring River Brook Medical Centre.
The practice is one of dozens of surgery-based vaccination hubs across Birmingham ramping up the rollout.
Dr Chauhan and his colleagues began vaccinations in care homes within the practice’s wider federation of GP surgery clusters last week.
There has also been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to contact care homes, make arrangements and get patient consent, while all visiting vaccination staff have a Covid test to make sure they are safe.
“We started vaccinating about four weeks ago and we have done about 8-9,000 patients across our health federation,” he said.
“We’ve done about 2,000 at our (GP surgery) site.
“So far, for care homes in our primary care network, we’ve done about 300 residents, but we hope to finish most of those (care homes) by the end of this week.”
The 65-year-old said vaccine supplies were now “coming in more regularly” adding: “We are quite happy with the way it (supplies of vaccine) is coming through now.”
He added there had only been “about 20 people who have not come for their appointment”.
“That shows how keen people are to have it,” said Dr Chauhan.
The pace of delivery is increasing across the West Midlands with the city’s Millennium Point mass vaccination centre opening on Monday.
All but two of the GP-led primary care networks (PCNs) in Birmingham and Solihull are also now delivering jabs, with the remainder set to come online shortly.
On Wednesday, Asda separately announced one of its Birmingham stores will be the location of what is thought to be the first supermarket in England to host a vaccination centre, on January 25.
Ramping up the vaccination rollout is critical with frontline healthcare workers across the city locked in a race to save lives.
On Tuesday, the University Hospitals Birmingham trust said it was redeploying 200 doctors to intensive treatment units (ITU) and scaling-up capacity to deal with up to 1,000 Covid patients, with up to 280 intensive care, in a bid to head off being “overwhelmed” by a third wave of infections.