Care homes may need to wait again, even after the first COVID vaccine is approved by MHRA

The big moment has arrived after several months of uncertainty and tragedies. MHRA has accepted the Pfizer/BioNTec coronavirus vaccine for the wider use.


Press release by Pfizer below on 18th November 2020.


  • Primary efficacy analysis demonstrates BNT162b2 to be 95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose;170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were evaluated, with 162 observed in the placebo group versus 8 in the vaccine group.
  • Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics; observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94%
  • Safety data milestone required by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) has been achieved.
  • Data demonstrate vaccine was well tolerated across all populations with over 43,000 participants enrolled; no serious safety concerns observed; the only Grade 3 adverse event greater than 2% in frequency was fatigue at 3.8% and headache at 2.0%
  • Companies plan to submit within days to the FDA for EUA and share data with other regulatory agencies around the globe.
  • The companies expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021
  • Pfizer is confident in its vast experience, expertise and existing cold-chain infrastructure to distribute the vaccine around the world.


The U.K. medicine regulator MHRA has approved the vaccine and commented it is ready to be rolled out to the public. 


Frequently asked questions about COVID Vaccine in care homes


How does Pfizer vaccine work?

Vaccination is by injecting mRNA, triggering the body to activate the immune system as if like we had the real coronavirus infection.


Where is Pfizer based? 

Pfizer Inc is based in America, and it is one of the world's largest multinational pharmaceutical corporation. 


What other medicine is manufactured by Pfizer?

Lipitor - Cholesterol reducing drug. (Atorvastatin)

Lyrica - For neuropathic pain. (Pregabalin)

Diflucan - Antifungal medication. (Fluconozole)

Zithromax - Antibiotic. (Azithromycin). 


Who owns Pfizer?

Pfizer is a Pharmaceutical corporation that was founded in New York City in 1849 by Charles Pfizer and Charles F. Erhart. The current CEO of Pfizer is Albert Bourla. It is a publically listed company with 26% owned by the public and rest owned by institutions. 


How is the vaccine stored?

Currently, the vaccine should be stored in specialist refrigerators with the ultracold temperature of -70°C. The refrigerator itself can cost as much $20,000. 


How will the vaccine be distributed?

DHSC has advised NHS to be ready to roll out vaccine in the last two weeks. It will be rolled out with the help of NHS and military. The Government is awaiting approval from the Vaccine Joint Committee to comment on who should be receiving the vaccine first. Because of the cold storage reasons, NHS staff may get the vaccine before the care home staff and residents. 


Do we need to take consent before the vaccine?

Yes, as a part of the vaccine roll-out, you are required to get the consent from your residents as per CQC regulation 11. 


I have my doubts about COVID vaccines - what are the facts?

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has released some common myths and facts here. Please share it with your staff, residents and relatives. 


How much the Pfizer vaccine cost?

£15 per dose. Some may require two doses, costing them £30. Currently, there is no intention for the Government to charge the public for taking the vaccine. The Government paid around £588 million to order 40 million units. 


Do I need to carry out a risk assessment for administering COVID vaccination?

You do not have to do a risk assessment for individual treatments. It is usually carried out by the pharma companies and the doctor who prescribes it. But you will have to keep a record of the vaccine batch number just in case to report any severe side effects. If you have nurses in your care home and if they are responsible for administering, you should check their competency on the administration of the injections. 


What to do if staff resists taking COVID vaccine?

Unfortunately, you cannot force anyone to take any vaccines. But as an employer, you can consult your H.R. Lawyer on implementing policies on COVID vaccine uptake. The employer has the ultimate responsibility to ensure the health and safety of everyone working, living and visiting care homes. It comes to your decision on what you should and shouldn't accept, effectively you can 'enforce' if it becomes criteria to visit or work in your care home. 


Will I have any symptoms if I take Pfizer vaccine?

The participants for the vaccine trial has reported high fever, body aches, headaches and exhaustion following the vaccine, but disappeared after a day. 


Who should I consult regarding this?

You can contact the care home consultancy firm OCH for further advice on how to role it out within your organisation.


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