Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed an extension of the COVID-19 vaccination programme to carers and those with underlying health conditions.
In addition, anyone over 70 who has not had their first dose from their GP will have the option to book a vaccination appointment at one of the seven regional centres.
“Today’s news will be a huge relief for many. It is long overdue and I welcome unpaid carers acting informally will also be in receipt of the vaccine,” said Ms Bradshaw.
“Carers will feel like a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders, as uncertainty has added so much stress and anxiety to the deep concerns around infecting their loved ones.
“Those with underlying health conditions, who have also been worried about their own health, will equally feel their burden lightened. I welcome news the vaccination for them will mirror the yearly winter flu vaccination. This offers clear guidance for GPs and hopefully this will speed up the programme.
“It is important measures are in place to accommodate the personal and varied circumstances of carers. A large proportion of people will be giving care around the clock and may be unable to travel to a GP surgery or a vaccination centre without support. There are those with underlying health conditions who will also require assistance to attend their appointment. A proactive approach is necessary to ensure these groups are administered their first dose as quickly as possible.
“Our carers deserve our gratitude for all they have endured since the pandemic started and more needs to be done to recognise the contribution they make to our society. I urge the Health Minister to expedite his work on a recognition payment, to improve identification through a central carers' database, and to legislate to improve the rights of carers going forward.”