Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
The Secret Carer
Features Writer
2:46 PM 7th January 2021

Vaccination - Prioritise All Carers

Everyone has heard the advice given by air stewards at the start of a flight: in the event of an emergency, when the oxygen masks drop down, instead of placing a mask on the most vulnerable person first - such as children or the elderly - you should put one on yourself and only then deal with the most vulnerable afterwards.

It might seem selfish at first sight, but in fact it’s entirely practical: if you leave yourself until last you may not be in a fit state to protect or save those who are dependent upon you.

I believe this could be a metaphor for carers urgently needing to be vaccinated during the Coronavirus crisis. I recognise and understand completely why we are vaccinating sections of our most vulnerable population first (starting with the elderly) but without doctors, nurses, respite carers etc. to care for them and us, we will be helpless.

Let’s prioritise vaccination for those who protect and care for the most vulnerable

Let’s prioritise vaccination for those who protect and care for the most vulnerable, which includes not just frontline NHS staff such as doctors, nurses, care workers, emergency service workers, but pharmacists, hospital caterers, cleaners and ancillary staff, respite carers, unpaid carers and parent carers, to mention but a few.

From my experience the majority of the elderly living independent lives are extremely sensible and are isolating and distancing themselves very effectively.

Many have told me that they would be prepared to wait several months longer for their vaccinations in order to ensure frontline NHS staff are safe and protected. Regular monitoring and vaccination of care home workers will mean care home residents will also remain safe in the meantime.

During this growing crisis, with the new, fast-spreading covid variant we need our care workers protected immediately because without them, who will look after the most vulnerable in society, including the elderly?

Indeed, who will be available to look after any of us if our army of carers has been significantly reduced by illness? Health and Social Care could soon become overwhelmed on an unimaginable scale. There is already much evidence to indicate hospitals are reaching breaking point.

It shouldn’t need to be repeated endlessly, but in order to protect all of our population we need to recognise, prioritise and vaccinate all of our essential care workers - and fast.