Sunday, February 28, 2021
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Care Minister Helen Whatley appears to backtrack over vaccinated care home visits on GMB

Care Minister Helen Whatley appears to backtrack over vaccinated care home visits on GMB
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Care Minister Helen Whatley appeared to backtrack on statements she made about visitations in care homes just 15 minutes prior, during an interview on Good Morning Britain.

Ms Whatley told hosts Charlotte Hawkins and Alex Beresford that a family member and a loved one in a care home both having had one dose of the vaccine was not enough to make solid plans for visiting restrictions to be lifted, reminding them that neither party would have full immunity.

Alex said: “Contact is what everyone wants with their loved ones, so if a wife living in a house has been vaccinated, and her husband in a care home has also been vaccinated, is there no reason why they shouldn’t be able to be in each other’s presence and break social distancing?”

Ms Whatley replied: “Well, clearly we are making huge progress with the vaccination programme, nearly 16million people vaccinated, over 90% of residents in care homes who can be vaccinated have been.

“But remember that is still just the first dose, and still takes a little while for people to build up immunity and then they need the second dose.

“Separately from that, I want to enable visiting to start again, but for instance, using testing and PPE and those measures to make sure it’s as safe as possible.”

Helen Whatley MP had previously said both parties having one dose of the vaccine was enough for a visit

Just 15 minutes prior, Ms Whatley had said otherwise on Sky News, explaining: “I don’t think we have to wait for a second vaccination dose [of care home residents].

“All residents have already been offered first dose. Of course this will still depend on lockdown and how quickly it lifts too, but will be such welcome news for so many people.”

Asked by Alex if the government should be doing more to help care homes who are not able to make those visits work, the minister replied: “We have got the guidance already that allows visiting, for instance with screens, and something we have done over the last few months is provide extra funding to social care and care homes so they can invest in those facilities.

Helen Whatley MP
The care minister emphasised on GMB that one dose did not give full Covid protection

“But I do know it doesn’t always work with dementia patients, having a screen. But we are still going to have to be careful.”

Charlotte asked: “Can we expect further detail from Boris Johnson on this, is there gong to be an announcement, there are people who are saying with vaccination, with the testing capabilities and the PPE that we have, there should be a way to have close contact visits facilitated in care homes?”

Ms Whatley replied: “I want there to be more news on this in the plans for coming out of lockdown which the Prime Minister is going to set out next week, and how we can step by step get back to normal visiting.”

Dr Maurice Price administers the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine into the arm of Beryl Humphreys, a resident at Bowbrook House care home in Shrewsbury

Alex asked: “Should it be a requirement for care workers to be vaccinated if they want to continue to do their job, some are refusing to have the jab which puts others at risk, this feels very uncomfortable?”

Helen replied that take up of the vaccination was strong and said many people the first time around were not on shift or were within 28 days of a positive test.

Charlotte replied that one in five care home residents refused the jab, and told the minister it was not simply a matter of logistics.

Ms Whatley replied that it was also important to spread the message that the vaccine is safe, and to combat misinformation that could be putting care workers off getting the vaccine.

* Good Morning Britain airs weekdays on ITV at 6am





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