Coronavirus in Scotland: Plea for parents of children with complex disabilities to be among first to receive Covid vaccine

A charity is pressing for parents of children with complex disabilities to be among the first to receive a vaccine against Covid-19.

Benjamin with his two sisters
Benjamin with his two sisters

Kindred, which supports children with special health needs, has produced a report on the "devastating" effect of the pandemic for parents caring for such youngsters and says they cannot afford to become ill themselves.

Alex Davey, from East Lothian, has three young children. The middle one, six-year-old Benjamin, has complex medical needs, including tube-feeding, epilepsy and overnight ventilation.

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He was in the shielding category from March until August and has had six hospital admissions since the start of the pandemic.

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All respite services were halted during lockdown and the family also stopped their home carers due to the increased risk of infection they posed.

Juggling Benjamin’s medical needs, personal care, therapy and education with home-working and home-schooling his two sisters proved challenging.

Having been reassured by medical professionals that Benjamin is at low risk from Covid-19, Alex’s main concern is that she and her husband will contract the disease, rendering them incapable of meeting his complex care needs, potentially for a long period of time.

Kindred surveyed parents from 17 local authorities on the ramifications of the lockdown months on vulnerable families.

The charity found 93 per cent of them experienced an impact on their ability to meet their children’s medical and care needs due to the pandemic, with 63 per cent saying the impact was “big” or “severe”.

Kindred said early access to the Covid vaccine was imperative to ensure that families like Alex’s could be sure they could continue to care for their child.

And the organisation has written to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, urging that such parents be given priority when distributing the recently announced vaccine.

Sophie Pilgrim, director of Kindred, said: “Our report provides evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on families of children with complex needs and life limiting conditions. Anyone reading this report will be moved by their plight.

“Parents put their children first. And we must work together and ensure they are amongst the first to get the vaccine."

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