'It's a horrible situation' - Wakefield mum's months long fight to secure a Covid vaccine for her clinically vulnerable son
A Wakefield mum says clinically vulnerable children must not be “forgotten”, after a months-long fight to secure a Covid vaccine for her son.
Ann-Marie Sheard’s son Isaac has Down’s Syndrome, as well as a number of other health conditions which mean he is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
The 13-year-old has been advised to shield for much of the pandemic, but with his siblings back at school and parents expected to return to work, his family were left with serious concerns for his health.
Last week, after months of searching, Isaac’s family were put in touch with a clinician who was willing to advise that he receive the jab, and he was given his first dose of a Covid vaccine.
But his parents say this is not enough for the thousands of other families in a similar position.
Ann-Marie said: “Throughout the lockdowns we’ve shielded my son, but unfortunately because he’s 13 he didn’t fall into a category for a vaccine.
"Clinicians are saying until it’s approved for this age group they will not approve it. I know so many more families experiencing the same thing.
“Isaac has had his vaccine thanks to our GP, who wrote to clinicians and one wrote back and advised it.
“We’ve got fantastic GPs who go that extra mile and we are very, very lucky. But for so many of Isaac’s peers, some who are far more medically vulnerable than he is, it’s just not happening.
“We do feel so blessed and lucky that it has happened, but just wish it could happen for more people.”
In the UK, Covid vaccinations are being rolled out according to the priority list from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Though the JCVI notes that there is “very limited data” on the effects of Covid-19 vaccinations on children under 16, it advises that those with medical conditions which put them at extremely high risk from the virus can be offered vaccination if advised by their GP or clinician.
In Isaac's family's eyes, the potential risk from any vaccine was significantly lower than the risk if he were to contract the virus.
But they say it is unfair to expect families to fight for months on end to protect their children.
Ann-Marie says she knows dozens of other families in similar situations who have not been able to find a doctor willing to back the vaccination for their child.
She wants the guidance to be changed to make it easier for extremely vulnerable children to apply to receive the vaccine.
She said: “It’s a postcode lottery. I have friends who are absolutely petrified.
“It’s been hard until now, but we can do it because we’re allowed to shield.
"I completely get that there’s no easy way out of this and I understand that people need to return to work, but I do feel that consideration hasn’t been made for this group of people and their families who are expected to go about a normal way of living but are still in a horrible situation.
“We can get a vaccine as parents and carers, but the one person that we really need vaccinated can’t get it.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance allows clinicians, in exceptional circumstances, to prescribe vaccine doses to people outside of the groups permitted for vaccination.
“Almost all children with Covid-19 have no symptoms or only mild disease. For a very small number of children at a higher risk of catching the virus and serious illness, the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have advised that vaccination can be appropriate.
“JCVI advise that this is a decision for doctors and clinicians to make on a case-by-case basis and should be carefully discussed between a child’s parents or carers and their GP.