Family carers question why they are not prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine

Family carers question why they are not prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine

Mary Doran, from Newcastle in Tipperary, cares for her mother Leishe and uncle Jerry. 

Family carers, who are looking after elderly or medically vulnerable loved ones at home, are questioning why they are not being prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination.

Family Carers Ireland has written to the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination, requesting that family carers are included as a priority group. The organisation has also contacted Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. 

According to the HSE's answer to a parliamentary question submitted by Deputy David Cullinane, family carers "are likely to be considered in the key worker group", which is sixth on the priority list.

Mary Doran, from Newcastle in Tipperary, cares for her mother Leishe and uncle Jerry. Both are elderly and would be considered high risk in terms of Covid.

Ms Doran worked as a tax consultant in Dublin before coming home to care for her relatives full-time five years ago. 

Ms Doran's mother has had many surgeries and has been in and out of hospital. Her health wavers between being bedbound to being up, albeit with mobility issues. 

Jerry, Ms Doran's uncle, lives on his own, but Ms Doran would still provide care for him. He has underlying conditions such as diabetes, COPD, asthma and heart trouble.

Mary Doran collecting her Tipperary Carer of the Year award in 2019. 

Mary Doran collecting her Tipperary Carer of the Year award in 2019. 

She says while her mother and uncle will be vaccinated ahead of her, there is no clear evidence yet that the vaccines stop the transmission of the virus. 

"This means they could still give it to me. If my mother was in a [nursing home] setting, she would be vaccinated, along with all her carers and staff. I don't understand why we aren't vaccinated as a bubble." 

If Ms Doran falls sick with Covid, her mother and uncle will have to go into a clinical setting. 

"If they vaccinated me, this would prevent that. My mother usually wouldn't leave the house, only for medical appointments which I bring her to. So it would be me bringing the virus into the house."

She has stopped home help coming into both her mother and uncle's homes as the rate of the virus is so high, which only adds to her caring workload. 

Ms Doran says family carers and their loved ones are able to avail of the flu vaccine as a household, and she can't understand why the same is not being applied for the Covid vaccine. 

"You have already given up a lot to care for an elderly person, or a person with additional needs, but it's not being recognised by the government."    

If you are a carer in need of support, the National Freephone Careline number is 1800 24 07 24.

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