Government needs to outline contingency plan for over 70s vaccination
Denis Naughten has called for family carers to now be prioritised as part of the review of the vaccine roll-out following the decision by Government last night to not administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to older people.
He has also called on the Government to immediately outline its contingency plan for the rollout of vaccines to those over 70.
“While the evidence is not available at the moment to support the use of this vaccine with older people, there is very clear evidence that this vaccine reduces the rate of transmission of the virus and that in turn strongly supports the case that carers should have access to this particular vaccine much quicker than currently planned,” stated Denis Naughten.
“By taking such a pro-active step it will also help to protect vulnerable older people, particularly those who are housebound, and children with a disability who are now further down the vaccination list as a result of prioritisation decisions.
“It was clearly a mistake not to initially designate full-time family carers in the vulnerable category because if carers get sick then many older people, or those with a disability, will be forced into hospital or long-term care, putting further pressure on our over-stretched health system,” stated Denis Naughten.
“If vaccination priority was based on the risk of death, followed by hospitalisation, then why are carers excluded? In the UK family carers have been prioritised as being a group at higher risk because ‘those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, should also be offered vaccination alongside these groups’.
“Across the EU, US, UK and many other countries vaccinating family carers is seen as international best practice, yet they are still being ignored here in Ireland.
“Providing care at home during the Covid pandemic has been incredibly difficult for family carers with many forced to care single-handed without the support of family, home care, day services or respite.
“Now that we have the very first scientific evidence of a vaccine that reduces transmission of the virus, it is imperative that carers are included in the category with all other frontline healthcare workers. The Government also needs to immediately outline its contingency plan and provide clear and concise information in order to reduce any further anxiety for people awaiting vaccination. We also need assurances that there will be no further delays in the vaccine roll-out,” concluded Denis Naughten.