Posted: Mon 1st Feb 2021

North Wales health board seeking “clarification” on Covid vaccination rules after foster carers left out of the priority list

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Feb 1st, 2021


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A health board is seeking “clarification” on Covid vaccination rules after it emerged foster carers have been left out of the current priority list.

The request emerged after the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) was contacted anonymously and told foster carers were not eligible for the vaccine, although they have always been able to request an immunisation against Hepatitis B.

While many foster carers may look after children for an extended time, they can also take on youngsters for short-term and respite placements, potentially leaving them at risk of exposure to Covid-19.

The issue comes at a time when the supply of foster carers cannot meet demand according to experts.

Betsi Cadwaladr is responsible for rolling out the immunisation across North Wales but has to follow guidelines from the Joint Council on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

They mention nothing about foster carers, although Betsi has confirmed social care staff who work with children do fall within the initial priority groups for vaccination.

Gill Harris, deputy chief executive and executive director of nursing and midwifery, confirmed the board was “following national guidance” on Covid vaccine eligibility.

She said: “Social care workers with a physical client facing role, including adult services, support workers in housing services and children’s services are in groups 1-4 in accordance with JCVI guidance.

“According to national guidance, foster carers are not currently part of this eligible group, unless the child in their care is critically vulnerable to Covid-19.

“This is because children themselves are not considered to be significantly at risk from Covid-19.

“However, we have written to Welsh Government to seek further guidance and clarity on this matter.

“We remain in regular contact with colleagues nationally for the latest guidance on eligible groups for vaccination.”

Only one county council in North Wales, Flintshire, confirmed it had sent Betsi a list of foster parents asking for them to be vaccinated.

Flintshire county council’s senior human resources and organisational development manager, Sharon Carney, said Betsi was “responsible for the Covid vaccination programme”.

She added: “I can confirm we submitted the list of foster carers to BCUHB last Tuesday and shared the link with our foster carers last Wednesday (January 20) to enable them to book a vaccine.”

All other county councils in North Wales either didn’t respond to our questions or directed the LDRS to the health board.

Welsh Government would only confirm it was “following the priority groups set out by the JCVI” and those with the highest priority would be “immunised as safely and as soon as possible”.

Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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