More than 1,000 Bedford care home residents prioritised for coronavirus vaccine this month

National Care Forum said the target will be a significant challenge

Bedford care homes have more than 1,000 residents who have been prioritised for coronavirus vaccinations before the end of January.

The National Care Forum said the target will be a significant challenge for health services across England, but achieving it would be the "booster" that everyone needs.

There were 1,411 care home residents in Bedford as of December, according to analysis of Care Quality Commission data by CSI Market Intelligence.

Bedford care homes have more than 1,000 residents who have been prioritised for coronavirus vaccinations before the end of January

GPs and local vaccination services have been asked to give injections to every care home resident in their area by the end of January.

With the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on January 4, this is a target of around 50 per day in Bedford.

However, as Bedford Today revealed on Monday, the vaccination rollout in Bedford has already been delayed by days with some elderly patients had their appointments cancelledThe CSI-MI figures assume an 85 per cent occupancy level in the area, which is the national average, but there could be as many as 1,660 residents in Bedford if all available beds are in use.

There are around 389,000 care home residents in England who, along with their carers, make up the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's first priority group for jabs.

Vic Rayner, executive director of the NCF, said: "The scale of the challenge set by government over the next month is significant.

"It will rely on huge amounts of local communication and coordination between care homes, GPs and local public health teams.

"The response to the vaccine so far has been incredible, with residents and staff embracing it when available.

"Everyone is seeing this as a way forward for this most vulnerable population and being able to mark it as ‘job done’ by the end of the month will literally be the booster that everyone across the country needs."

With England in another lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target for the four highest priority groups to be vaccinated by mid-February.

Care home staff are all covered in the top two groups, with almost one million of them across England, according to CSI-MI's analysis of Skills for Care data.

The data shows there were around 3,550 employees in Bedford as of September 2019.

Age UK said the rollout of the Oxford vaccine was good news as it is much easier to transport.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: "Care homes have had a torrid time since the start of the pandemic and it is vital that vaccinations happen as quickly and efficiently as possible and that residents and the care staff get the protection they need."

But she added that the country needs to control the spread of the new, highly infectious Covid-19 variant, and protect as many people as possible.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The NHS is doing everything it can to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible and we will rapidly accelerate our vaccination programme.

"While the most vulnerable are immunised, I urge everybody to continue following the restrictions so we can keep cases down and protect our loved ones."