DH tells adult care directors to get ready for swine flu vaccine

The Department of Health has written to adult social care directors urging them to finalise plans to vaccinate frontline social care staff against swine flu, with the inoculation programme due to begin this month.

In a letter to directors, DH national director for social care flu resilience Roy Taylor said councils would receive funding to carry out their responsibility to vaccinate care staff in the public, private and voluntary sectors and personal assistants working directly for service users.

However, with primary care trusts due to receive supplies of vaccine from the week beginning 26 October, he urged directors to ensure they are ready to implement the vaccination programme.

Work with PCTs

Taylor said directors would need to advise PCTs on the quantities of vaccine they required, the delivery of the vaccine, needles and syringes, and their safe storage.

He said details on how councils would be funded and how take-up would be monitored would follow, but also urged directors to finalise their communication strategy for the vaccination programme.

In August, the DH said that staff delivering personal care, and their managers, would be among the first priority groups for vaccination, alongside health colleagues.

Independent provider warnings

Independent care provider leaders said councils needed to ensure vaccines reached their employees, who make up the majority of the social care workforce.

United Kingdom Homecare Association head of policy and communication Colin Angel said: “The onus is now on local authorities to ensure that the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors are treated equitably.”

England Community Care Association chief executive Martin Green said that early engagement with care providers was essential to making delivery work. “The challenge is for councils to deliver something very swiftly for their independent sector partners,” he said.

Variety of approaches to delivery

In his letter, Taylor said councils had adopted a variety of approaches to delivering the vaccination programme, including:-

• PCTs delivering the vaccination to both NHS and social care staff.
• GPs or groups of practices delivering the vaccine
• Using private sector contractors specialising in mass vaccination to deliver the vaccine
• Private and voluntary sector providers delivering the vaccine through their own occupational health services or through qualified nurses in nursing homes.
• Councils to use their own occupational health departments for delivery.

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