Laois wheelchair users plead for priority Covid-19 vaccinations

Leinster Express reporter

Reporter:

Leinster Express reporter

Laois wheelchair users call for  priority Covid-19 vaccinations

The Irish Wheelchair Association in Laois is calling on the Government to prioritise people with disabilities in their Covid vaccination plan, amid concerns over vaccine supplies.

The Laois branch of the IWA wants the Government to prioritise people with disabilities under its vaccination plan, as concerns grow over vaccine delays.

The charity said that people with physical disabilities are at severe risk due to underlying conditions.

Josephine Kenny is a member of the Laois branch.

“Many people with physical disabilities are at severe risk of Covid due to health conditions that could cause complications and hospitalisation, yet they have not been recognised as a vulnerable group by the Government.

She said that their members are also confined in their homes. 

“The Government must also recognise that in the absence of regular day services, many people with disabilities have been confined at home since the virus took hold last March, adding additional stress. People we support are eager to get the vaccine and are highly concerned about how long they will wait with vaccine supplies lower than planned," Josephine said.

She said that people in Laois are being cared for by frontline workers visiting their homes. 

“In Laois, we have a strong team of frontline workers, who have been visiting people at home every day since Covid arrived almost a year ago. We are helping people get out of bed, get dressed, preparing meals, helping around the home, making trips for shopping, the chemist and with personal care.

“Our immediate priority is to protect people with disabilities and to ensure that the most vulnerable have all the support they need while they cannot be with their family and friends. Our members have added vulnerabilities to the Covid-19 virus. They must be included on the Government’s vaccine priority list.”

“At the current time, people over 65 in residential settings with disabilities are rightly getting vaccinated. Yet worryingly, those living independently in the community and being assisted at home in Laois and across the country are not.

“This is a real issue. Our members have told us they are very keen to be vaccinated, but are concerned that they will be left waiting. With concerns about vaccination supplies, we urge the Minister for Health to urgently include people with disabilities on the priority list to ensure their protection," she said.

Irish Wheelchair Association is Ireland’s largest organisation supporting people with physical disabilities to lead active and independent lives and has 20,000 members. The association currently has 1,500 staff across Ireland visiting 4,000 homes each month, caring for individuals with disabilities, in their own homes.