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Matthews calls for urgency in fully vaccinating home carers

Date: 31 May 2020

Green Party TD, Steven Matthews has called for greater focus to be placed on home carers with regards to the vaccination rollout and has written to Minister Donnelly asking that priority is given to ensuring that they are fully vaccinated as soon as possible. This issue particularly relates to home carers who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as per their age cohort and now must wait 3 months or more for their second dose. Discussing the issue, Deputy Matthews said:

“Since the very beginning of the vaccination rollout, I have been calling for home carers to be given priority as a cohort but unfortunately these calls were not addressed. I accept the pressure that the HSE and NIAC were under from countless organisations seeking priority, but I was disappointed that priority was not offered to carers given the serious knock on practical implications for the health service were they to develop Covid symptoms and be unable to offer the same level of care.

“The overall rollout of the vaccines is progressing at pace but a consistent concern that is being raised with me is the wait between doses for those who were in receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine. In many cases this vaccine was provided to frontline healthcare workers and those in the 60-70 age bracket who were deemed a risk due to their age. Due to the differences in waiting times for different vaccines, we are seeing and will continue to see much younger cohorts fully vaccinated before those who received their first dose of AstraZeneca 3-4 months ago.

“While I accept and understand the frustration of all those in this position, I believe that the priority in such cases needs to be for home carers who have received their first dose of AstraZeneca and may have to wait until August or later to be fully vaccinated. In most of these cases, those who they care for will be fully vaccinated using Pfizer or Moderna. With the potential risk of the variants for those who are only half vaccinated, there needs to be an emphasis placed on minimising the risk for this group as soon as possible.

“Carers have faced untold hardship throughout the pandemic, respite services have been curtailed, support networks moved online and other factors that have generally made an already difficult situation, even more challenging. The least we can do at this stage is ensure that their wait times between vaccine doses are reduced to a more manageable 4-8-week period.

“To offer a second dose of AstraZeneca to the number of carers currently waiting is not an insurmountable challenge for NIAC, and the HSE. Home carers have been front line workers in this pandemic as far as I am concerned and they should be treated as such, concluded Deputy Matthews.

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