Swine flu vaccine: why are carers excluded?

A few times in the year, I try to whack a wee white ball with an iron stick into a not-so-wee white hole a few hundreds yards away. At golf, I am definitely an amateur. And despite my height, I am even more of an amateur at rugby and as anyone who has seen me chasing balls smacked over the net by my girlfriend, my efforts at tennis could only be considered amateur.

It is strange that in each of these sports the last few decades has seen a change in prestige from amateurs to those paid professionals. It is professionals who now command respect, adulation and all the support that can be offered whilst the poor amateur struggles on a less than level playing field. My grandfather’s beloved Queens Park (an amateur Scottish football team) now languishes in the lower divisions, no longer beating Rangers and Celtic in heroic upsets.

Yet it seems to me that it is the one who does not get paid who most needs our support. It is the person who gives everything of themselves that should receive our helping hand. It is the one who against all odds still steps up to the plate day after day that should be given our aid. But it is clear they are not.

The Dept of Health has advised that paid frontline health and social workers providing personal care will receive the swine flu vaccination, but that carers will not. Even if they provide personal care too. The majority of care and support in this country is provided by carers and many are giving medical and personal care to individuals who would require hospital or residential care if their carer were to become sick. Is it simply because they are not paid that we value them less?

I understand that resources are limited but basing priority on whether somebody gets paid or not is far from being the best way to distribute the vaccine. It is good news that some people living with those who have compromised immune systems will receive the vaccine, but The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care have written to the Dept of Health urging them to reconsider this vast exclusion of many carers. I will let you know how we get on but in the meantime I suggest that we all become Queen’s Park supporters. C’mon the Spiders!

Take Care


August 26, 2009 - Posted by | Health | , ,


  1. I read that 50% of UK GPs wont have it because they don’t trust its safety – I think I’ll go with them! Similar strains of flu vaccine have in the past cause Guiile Barre Syndrome which causes paralysis and can cause death. For once maybe they are doing us a favour? Also its mostly about herd management than individual protection and flu viruses quickly mutate to overcome what you throw at them becoming more debilitating and difficult to recover from.

    Comment by Karen | August 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. I think there are two separate issues here. The first is whether carers should receive the swine flu vaccine, and I think Gordon makes a very good case for carers being one of the priority groups.

    The second issue is whether the vaccine itself is safe and effective. Ever since the media started writing about swine flu, there have been a lot of alarming stories and a good deal of speculation in the Press. At the end of day, it’s very hard for the lay person to know what is fact and what is fiction.

    It would be regrettable if concern about the vaccine’s safety clouded what is essentially an issue of carers’ entitlement to the vaccine, as society’s major provider of health and social care.

    Comment by Julia Ellis | September 1, 2009 | Reply

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