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Minister to ask NIAC to consider where family carers fit on vaccine priority list

Donnelly is particularly concerned about the situation for carers of children who are high risk.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE MINISTER FOR Health is to ask the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to consider whether family carers could be included in one of the vaccine groups currently being reviewed.

There was criticism this week of a failure to mention family carers when an announcement was made that people with high-risk conditions would be moved up the priority list.

Those aged 16-69 with certain high-risk medical conditions will be moved up from the seventh to the fourth cohort. This is the next group to be vaccinated after those aged 70, which is currently in progress.

The government had said that NIAC would also consider the place of family carers, but the committee did not return with any advice on this group earlier this week.

A spokesperson for the minister confirmed to TheJournal.ie that Minister Stephen Donnelly will ask NIAC to consider whether family carers could be included in one of the other groups the committee is now reviewing.

“Minister Donnelly will ask NIAC to consider whether family carers could be designated as a specific group in one of the cohorts being reviewed by NIAC,” he said. “The Minister is also particularly concerned about the situation for carers of children with very high risk conditions as those children (under 16) can’t receive a vaccine at present.”

David Nolan, who cares for his three-year-old son Ollie, this week expressed his devastation that family carers had not been included in the government’s announcement about prioritising high-risk groups.

Ollie has Type 1 diabetes and requires specific and dedicated care to avoid serious illness. Due to Ollie’s age, he cannot receive a vaccination at any phase of the programme as none of the approved vaccines have been deemed suitable for young children.

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His father David, who left his civil service job to care for Ollie, is currently in the very last group on the vaccine priority list. He told TheJournal.ie he was not just concerned about his son catching the virus – which could make him very ill – but also about how the toddler’s care could be managed if he and his wife became ill with Covid-19.

“The government has no contingency plan for what happens if a person’s carer gets sick,” he said. “Now if we get sick with it, we can’t have people coming in here to care for Ollie in case they get infected. I couldn’t put my mother at risk. And the HSE isn’t going to send a carer into a house that has an outbreak.”

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