Residents living in all care homes for older people in Sussex have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine.

People aged over 65 years old in care homes and those who look after them were identified as the top priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations, due to their high risk from coronavirus.

Thanks to the dedication and commitment of our vaccination teams from GP-led services and Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex has met the government target to vaccinate older care home residents by the end of January 2021.

*A small remainder of homes in Sussex have had visits deferred for safety reasons, following a risk assessment, during local outbreaks. These homes – as well as any other residents or staff that were unwell or unable to have a vaccine at the vaccination team’s initial visit, will be visited as soon as possible.

Frontline health and care staff across Sussex continue to be able to access the vaccine daily at one of our hospital hubs or vaccination centres.

Sussex NHS Commissioners Chief Nursing Officer, Allison Cannon, said: “By vaccinating thousands of older people across hundreds of care homes in Sussex we have given them not only some protection against the virus, but also a sense of hope.

“In Sussex we have one of the highest numbers of nursing and care homes per capita across the country and so this work is a significant undertaking. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our vaccination teams for their ceaseless work around the clock to get this vital protection to our older people.

“We continue to vaccinate thousands of care staff every day. They have worked tirelessly to look after our most vulnerable people through some very difficult months and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication and commitment. I would urge anyone in these roles to take the vaccine if you are offered it. Those working in care homes are at much higher risk of repeated exposure to the infection. Catching COVID-19 can be serious and may lead to long term complications, but you can also have the virus without any symptoms and pass it on to family, friends and residents, many of whom may be at increased risk.”

Vaccination teams have not paused in their work as they reach this milestone, but continue to roll out the crucial protection to other priority groups – to meet the target of vaccinating all care home residents, people aged over 70, and frontline health and care workers in Sussex by 15 February 2021.

It is important for people who have received the first dose of the vaccine to know that it may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection. The national guidance is that people should have two doses within 12 weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective.

There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. This means it is important to:

·         Continue to follow social distancing guidance

·         Wear full PPE and continue to follow all Infection Prevent and Control guidance in care settings, or for the public – wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people