Merton’s NHS vaccination team has now completed thousands of visits to housebound people across the borough, administering over 2,200 doses to vulnerable people.
The housebound service is available to people who can’t leave home to visit a vaccination centre for any number of reasons. In many cases it is because they are frail and elderly or have a physical or learning disability and no carer to take them. Some people are unable to go out because they have agoraphobia or they are undergoing cancer treatment, which makes them particularly vulnerable. For others, it is a result of conditions such as MS, or because they have had a leg amputation.
Fiona White, lead nurse for Merton, explained: “It’s really important that our most vulnerable patients are vaccinated by people they know, and trust within their practice or the community nursing team. We have a range of professionals delivering COVID-19 vaccines to housebound patients at home, including practice nurses, doctors, pharmacists and paramedics, all trained to transport and administer the vaccine safely and correctly.”
Vaccines need to be stored at between 2 and 8 degrees. They are transported in a special storage box that maintains the temperature within that range to ensure the vaccine does not lose its potency. Housebound patients receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as it is the only one that can be transported around the borough and to peoples homes.
For some housebound patients, such as Jim, who has a learning disability and does not leave his home, the decision to be vaccinated was helped by being visited by Fiona, who he knew well. “I was happy to have the vaccine, as I knew I could talk to Fiona while having it. I’ve had both my jabs now, so am feeling much safer.”
During the visit patients wear a face covering, unless they cannot do so for a health or disability reason. Vaccinators wear PPE and will have carried out a twice-weekly lateral flow test. All health and care staff are encouraged to have the vaccine themselves.
If you or a family member is housebound and eligible for the vaccine, and you haven’t been contacted about a home visit, please call your GP.