Care home residents keen to get vaccinated, staff less so

Ljubljana – Care homes will be among the first to get the vaccine against Covid-19 as it becomes available in Slovenia later this month, however while interest in getting a jab is considerable among residents, staff appear to be less keen for the time being.

Slovenia expects to get the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on 26 December, provided it is cleared by the European Medicines Agency, expectedly today.

According to the Health Ministry, the first batch will contain 9,745 doses, which will be administered as a priority to care home residents and staff and to frontline health staff.

Care homes need to provide data on the number of residents and staff willing to get vaccinated to the National Institute of Public Health by Tuesday 10am, so vaccination could start on Sunday.

Ministry says the first to get the shot will be care home residents who have given their consent, and then the staff. The vaccination will be performed by the community health centres or private providers in charge of each home.

Romina Zajc, director of the Izola care home at the seaside, says 150 of the 186 residents have expressed interest in getting the jab, but only 16 out of about 100 staff.

Similarly, the interest is keen among the residents of the Slovenj Gradec unit of the Koroško home in the north with about 80% inquiring about the vaccine. There is also considerable interest among staff.

The unit’s head Marjana Kamnik says written consents are yet being collected at their unit as well as the central unit in Črneče, where in late November interest was expressed by 50% of the residents and 20% of the staff.

Similarly, data are still being collected at the care home in Novo Mesto, while the interest at the Ljubljana Vič-Rudnik care home, has not been encouraging with only about 10% of the staff and about 20% of residents expressing their interest in past surveys.

The facility’s director, Melita Zorec, said they would check the interest again today as they perform rapid tests at the home and would try to persuade as many to get vaccinated.

“I hope we’ll be more successful, being that we have more than 300 staff and we need quite some organising,” she said, adding that the first to get vaccinated would be the residents who had not yet had Covid-19 and who were in zones with suspected Covid-19 cases.

The Ptuj care home, one of the largest in the country with about 700 residents in five units, including one in Koper, is still compiling lists of those interested, contacting relatives in cases when the residents cannot decide for themselves.

The facility’s director, Vesna Šiplič Horvat, said interest had so far been expressed by about 60% of the residents and 130 out of 378 staff had already opted to get vaccinated.

Sanda M. Gavranovič, the regional director of the private aged-care provider Senecura, which operates homes in Maribor, Radenci and Vojnik, has raised some of the issues, including what to do when residents who have agreed to get vaccinated change their mind or what to do with the vaccine if they died.

She says about 20-30% of the staff have expressed interest in getting the jab, while the share among the residents is somewhat higher but it takes quite some time to talk the options through with them or their relatives before they take a decision.