‘Prioritise unpaid carers with the vaccine rollout’, says Plaid Cymru Senedd member
A Plaid Cymru Senedd member has called for unpaid carers to be prioritised during the vaccine rollout.
Delyth Jewell, a regional MS for South Wales East MS, wants those who look after the vulnerable and elderly to be put in a higher priority group for the Covid-19 jab.
Paid carers are currently in priority group 2, but unpaid carers are not set to receive their vaccination until group 6, which may not be reached for months.
During a debate in the Senedd, Ms Jewell asked First Minister Mark Drakeford whether it would be possible to vaccinate unpaid carers who care for vulnerable or elderly people to receive the vaccine at the same time as those they’re caring for.
The Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd said: “Whilst paid care workers are in the same priority group as those over 80, unpaid carers are not, and they are in close physical proximity to those they’re caring for.
“Surely it would make sense for them to receive the vaccine at the same time, to protect their vulnerable relatives.
“So, First Minister, could I ask if you would consider making this change to the vaccine roll-out in the area so that unpaid carers are given priority too?”
In his response, the First Minister said: “Those are important points, and they would have been very carefully considered by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in its prioritisation of groups.
“The Member will know that unpaid carers are included in priority group 6. So, they’re not in the first four priority groups that we are focusing on at the moment, but they will be in the next set of priority groups.
“We have to abide by the JCVI’s prioritisation list.”
Speaking after the exchange, Delyth Jewell MS said: “Whilst I appreciate that difficult decisions have to made in terms of which groups to prioritise for the vaccine, I feel that unpaid carers and the people they care for are being let down by this decision – and this is yet another example of unpaid carers being marginalised during the pandemic.
“The work they do isn’t just important to our society, it’s essential, and the government should be doing more to acknowledge that.
“The Welsh Government is correct to place paid carers in group 2, since getting them vaccinated protects vulnerable people they interact with, as well as themselves.
“But I can see no reason why this principle should not apply to unpaid carers who care for vulnerable people, such as people over 70 and people with illnesses that increase their risk of being badly affected if they’re infected.
“Unpaid carers work in close physical proximity to those they’re caring for. This isn’t just a question of fairness, it’s one of safety.
“So I’d like the Welsh Government to look again at this issue to see whether it’s possible to give greater priority to unpaid carers, who are a group of people who feel they’ve been under-valued for a long time.”
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