Denis Naughten has welcomed plans to prioritise people with serious medical conditions for vaccination but asked that family carers be included in this prioritised category because of the knock on impact on our health service should they get sick.
“I believe that it was 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.
“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 family carers are still being ignored here in Ireland.
“If vulnerable people are being prioritised based on medical evidence, surely that same advice would also apply to vulnerable children? And while I accept that these children cannot be vaccinated themselves because we have yet to receive vaccine trial evidence on children, but that would make it even more important to vaccinate those family carers who come in daily contact with them in order to minimise the risk of picking up Covid-19.
“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”
“In addition, the risk of contracting the Covid virus has been a constant worry, not just because of the risk of exposing the person that they are caring for to the deadly virus but the worry of who will actually care for the vulnerable person if the carer themselves become ill” concluded Denis Naughten.