Informal carers could have vaccine sooner

A CALL by one local charity for informal carers to be vaccinated against coronavirus after those in the 65- to 70-year-old category has got an encouraging answer.

(Picture by Adrian Miller, 29113184)
(Picture by Adrian Miller, 29113184)

Carers Guernsey believes that carers should be included in category six of the priority list for receiving the vaccine alongside individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions with a higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

A States spokesman has confirmed it is looking to finalise details as soon as possible for this group to be on the priority list, as per updated guidelines issued by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation.

‘We have been working up plans to ensure carers are vaccinated as a priority group,’ he said.

‘We welcome the statement of Carers Guernsey and have discussed it with them. We look forward to working with them to finalise our plans to try and capture all islanders who play this vital role.’

It would see earlier vaccination for those in receipt of carer’s allowance or who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer contracted Covid-19.

Discussing what it meant for them, one Guernsey carer said: ‘Any risk when caring for a vulnerable dependant should be reduced or avoided as much as is humanly possible.

‘Carers are the front line workers outside of the hospital or specialist facility environment. Carers are the people who shop, source medicines, cook, clean, perform personal/intimate care duties. They give medications for many people who cannot perform daily tasks themselves.

‘A primary carer is absolutely invaluable to each and every dependent person. Take the carer out of the equation and the dependant becomes further vulnerable and affected by change.’

Carers Guernsey acknowledged that although many of informal carers would be picked up in the first six priority groups as they tended to be in the older age groups or have underlying health vulnerabilities themselves, many may not and these may be shielding to protect them both.

‘These are families that have been in self-imposed isolation for far longer than the official lockdown in an attempt to protect their vulnerable family member,’ a Carers Guernsey spokesman said.

‘They are unable to enjoy the same freedoms that the rest of the community can until they are all inoculated.’

They continued: ‘Of course we fully support the rollout of the vaccine prioritising those most vulnerable and health care workers on whom we rely to keep our care system going, particularly under the increased pressure caused by the virus.

‘But the updated JCVI guidance recognises that informal carers are critical to relieving the pressure on our care system and it makes clinical sense for carers to receive the vaccine alongside their cared-for.’

England is incorporating the advice into its priority list, following campaigning by Carers UK. Scotland has already placed carers on its priority list, as have Northern Ireland and Wales.

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