Nursing homes across the country are still waiting for a start date for Covid-19 vaccinations, although they are in a priority group who should receive the vaccine now.
The Aged Care Association represents around 90% of nursing homes in New Zealand and they want certainty around the rollout, saying they are juggling flu shots as well.
Chief Executive Officer Simon Wallace said Checkpoint the association has around 35,000 residents and as many staff who need to be vaccinated, but only a handful of them have been hit with Covid-19 so far.
“Like everyone else, we would like the deployment to happen more quickly. It certainly started in some areas eg Nelson started a week ago.
“With the Trans-Tasman bubble and the quarantine-free travel upon us, this only further increases the risk profile of our vulnerable people, and really underscores the need to act with the deployment.
“Our nursing homes are ready. They are ready and waiting to hear from DHB.
“What we don’t have and what we need are the deployment dates by individual DHBs. This has been one of the frustrating things for the elderly in the institution. And the reason it’s frustrating is that we also have the flu vaccine rollout at the same time as Covid-19, and there has to be a 14-day gap between the first Covid-19 vaccination and the second. dose.
“So we want to know what the deadlines are so that our providers can handle both the Covid-19 vaccinations and the flu vaccinations, as they should.
“What we have agreed with the ministry and the DHB is that all our residents will be vaccinated on site in their nursing home, and this is absolutely essential because they are fragile and they have a number of health problems. , and we have had confirmation that all our residents will be vaccinated and their nursing homes. “
Nursing homes had additional factors to consider, unlike the general population, Wallace said.
“For example, about durable powers of attorney for our dementia units and that requires processes that we have to go through with families, and we have already done that. So we have this underway, and we are ready.
“Covid is still arriving in the country … and I think that only highlights the risks we still have, and the need to vaccinate our vulnerable population and the people who care for them.”
The association had received an indication from the Department of Health that vaccinations would be completed by the end of May or early June for residents and staff, Wallace said.
“We would like to get individual dates from DHBs for deployment, as this will help us manage the issues we have around flu and meeting space, flu and Covid vaccines, and we insist on a daily basis with the ministry. in the DHB to have a certainty on the dates.