Fears have been raised that care homes are falling behind in the roll-out of the Covid-19 booster vaccines.
ManchesterWorld has looked at figures analysed by our sister title NationalWorld and found that in every one of the Greater Manchester local authorities the percentage of care home residents over 65 with a booster jab is lower than the proportion of that age group in the population as a whole which has had either a booster or a third dose.
The situation in Manchester is particularly shocking, with just over half of care home residents over 65 having received an extra jab.
Age UK has described the national vaccine roll-out figures for care homes as “worryingly low”.
What does the data show?
The data shows that in every one of the 10 boroughs in the city-region the percentage of care home residents aged over 65 who have received a booster dose is lower than for the over-65s as a whole getting either a full third dose of a vaccine or a booster.
The lowest rate is in Manchester, where just 54.5% of older care home residents have received a booster dose (981 out of 1,799 residents).
By contrast, 73.1% of over-65s in the city have received their extra dose or a third full jab.
Other low figures include the 62.2% for care home residents over 65 in Trafford, the 68.4% figure recorded in Rochdale and the 69.1% for Bury.
On the other hand, five of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford, have given booster doses or full third jabs to more than four in five over-65s.
The best-performing borough for care home booster doses is Stockport, where just over three-quarters of care home residents over 65 have been given an extra jab.
The figures are for the number of booster doses given out as of 28 November.
Is there anything else about the data I need to know?
The data for care homes may miss out some care home residents over 65 who will have been given a third full dose of a Covid-19 vaccine rather than the booster.
These are people who are severely immuno-compromised, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.
However, as third doses cannot be logged in the Government’s vaccine tracker there is also a possibility that some of these full vaccine shots may have been included in the booster figures.
The data are those recorded by care providers in Capacity Tracker and have been given by 97% of providers.
What has been said?
NHS England data showed that as of 28 November 72.5% of residents in older adult care homes across England had received a booster, though as explained above that may be an underestimate.
Analysis of data for the general population shows 80.7% of people aged 65 and over had had a booster (or third primary dose, for people with severely compromised immune systems) by the same date.
Age UK said the discrepancy was concerning.
Caroline Abrahams, director of the charity, said: “The pandemic is far from over, and now with the concerns raised by the emergence of the Omicron variant it’s imperative that we protect those who are at greatest risk from the virus, who include care home residents and older people who are housebound.
“According to these statistics the numbers who have received their boosters so far are worryingly low.”
However, she also said the figures could “understate the true position” because of a lag between people receiving a booster and the official government data reflecting this.
Care England, which represents providers, said its members had not been reporting problems with the roll-out.
And that was also the experience of one care firm in the city-region.
Aaron Greaves, marketing and communications manager at Millennium Care, said: “We haven’t had any issues with booster jabs for our residents and thankfully all our staff are being given the opportunity to receive theirs in the coming days and weeks.
“This has matched our experience with the rest of the vaccination rollout despite there being some issues in the sector.”
NHS England told NationalWorld it was inaccurate to suggest care home residents were not a priority, pointing to an announcement made at the start of November that it had offered booster appointments to all care homes, six weeks after the start of the rollout.