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At least 300,000 housebound people yet to receive COVID booster vaccine, data shows

Vaccine

At least 300,000 housebound people have not received a COVID booster vaccine, according to leaked Whitehall analysis.

The unpublished analysis, seen by The Daily Telegraph, found that only 170,000 people who are unable to travel for jabs had received the booster at the end of last week – around 36% of the estimated total cohort of 470,000.  

It follows many GPs opting out of delivering boosters after negotiations about who should be responsible for delivering the campaign and an ongoing row about doctors’ workloads.

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Sajid Javid last week said GPs would be paid a £30 incentive for every housebound person given their booster, and would be freed from carrying out routine health checks on over 75s.

However, it is understood that a significant proportion of doctors who visited people’s homes to give first and second jabs have already opted out of the booster campaign, saying they do not have the time or the staff. 

Asked on BBC Breakfast last week about an 83-year-old who had been unable to get a booster at home for more than a month, the Health and Social Care Secretary said: “I don’t know the details of that particular situation, but it does worry me to hear that.”

In recent guidance, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said it was “clear that those at greatest risk must be prioritised, including those who are housebound”. 

The majority are understood to be in elderly and clinically vulnerable groups declared eligible for boosters in September.

In areas including Kent, London, Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire and Devon, responsibility for visiting the housebound has been taken over from GPs by local NHS clinical commissioning groups or contracted out to pharmacy firms.

But many NHS leaders are struggling to find staff to go out and administer the jabs, according to the Telegraph.

Homecare Association CEO, Dr Jane Townson commented: “It is disappointing to learn that some of those at highest risk from COVID-19, who are unable to travel to get their booster jab, are not receiving the support they require to protect themselves.  

“As well as people officially deemed house-bound, there are others with conditions such as dementia, who may also struggle to travel to vaccination centres, and need help to access vaccines at home.  

“Obtaining a booster jab is a vital line of defence against coronavirus, particularly with highly transmissible variants such as Omicron. We urgently call on the Government to provide the infrastructure required, so that those unable to travel for health reasons are able to access a booster vaccine as soon as possible.”  

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke