Former carer gets first care home coronavirus vaccine

Annie Innes, 90, becomes the first care home resident in Scotland to get the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

A 90-year-old former carer has become the first person to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in a Scottish care home.

Annie Innes got the jab at Abercorn House care home in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, where she has been living for the past six months.

She said: “It’s wonderful to get the vaccine before Christmas. I hope it keeps me, my friends here and the staff safe and means we can get back to normal very soon.

“The nurses and the care home staff have been great with us and we are relieved to have been offered the vaccine.”

The second care home resident to receive her first dose was former bartender Margaret Keating, 82, who has been a resident at Abercorn House for just over a year.

Staff from NHS Lanarkshire administered vaccines to 52 residents as the roll-out of the vaccination programme continued across the country

Care home residents in Scotland were receiving the vaccine for the first time on Monday,  after the Scottish Government announced a solution had to transport the doses safely from storage hubs.

The vaccine must initially be stored at minus 70C before being thawed out.

It can now be “packed down” into smaller batches which can be taken to care homes with “minimal wastage”, as supplies allow.

The care home vaccinations come after more than 5000 NHS staff and vaccinators received the vaccine, with the rollout starting on December 8.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I want to thank all those involved in the roll-out of the vaccination programme. It has been a challenge to get the Pfizer vaccine into care homes because of transport and storage requirements but I am delighted to see Mrs Innes become the first care home resident to receive her vaccine and I wish her many more years of good health.

“As more vaccines become available over the coming months we will be able to continue to extend the roll-out, but initially we are focussing on residents in care homes for older adults and their carers, as we know that older adults in care homes are at the highest risk of severe disease and death from Covid.”

“Those receiving their vaccines this week will get their second doses early in the New Year. Following advice from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) we are keeping 50 per cent of the stock we have back to allow this to happen.

“Of course, we won’t rely solely on the vaccine to protect our care home residents and that’s why we are also significantly accelerating the delivery of testing kits to all care homes for designated visitors.”

There are 23 sites around Scotland which will act as vaccination hubs for priority groups.

NHS boards will be required to develop their own vaccination plans in each area of Scotland.

North Lanarkshire nurse director Trudi Marshall, who is managing the care home vaccination programme across Lanarkshire, said: “This programme represents the biggest logistical challenges Lanarkshire, and the country, has ever faced.

“We’ve very rapidly scaled up our vaccinator nursing workforce and carried out detailed planning, which will enable us to vaccinate 2990 care home residents and 5601 staff across 93 care homes. In addition, the safe transport and storage of the vaccines has also been a very complex area of work and our staff have been excellent in meeting these challenges so diligently.

“It’s important to recognise just how much work our staff have put into the process in such a short time. Care home staff and managers also deserve praise for their fantastic co-operation and help.”

At the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Monday, the First Minister said that in the past six days more than 18,000 vaccinators and health and care workers have received the first dose of the vaccine.

Nicola Sturgeon said the vaccination of care home residents and staff was a “hugely important step in protecting many of the people who are most at risk from this virus”.

However, she said there was still a while to go before any return to normality.

She said: “Although today is an important day and gives us all yet more hope for the future we are still some way off a complete return to normal life.

“Covid still presents a real and present danger, the figures we report every day are evidence of that, we are not yet out of the woods.”

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