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Vulnerable Australians have to wait for “surveillance” in the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine

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Two Australians have been waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine, one will be rolled out on Monday, but some in the community are still wondering how to get the jab and why it’s not available early. Unknown.

when The federal government has announced plans for a mass vaccination programIvy Sutton looked at her family and wondered why they were at the same stage as meat processing workers.

Sutton, 71, enters Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination program, but she is not worried about herself.

Her three adopted children, now two adults (Robert, Tanya and Rachel), all live with disabilities and other complications, and Ms. Sutton was vaccinated in the first place. I think I should receive it.

Only people with disabilities who live in group homes are included in Phase 1a of vaccine introduction.

“Sometimes I think it’s overlooked,” Ivy said.

“There [are] Many people who have benefited from NDIS — this is absolutely wonderful — but I’m not sure if the government is aware that many families have stopped receiving group care. They have high needs, so in group care.

“If they were in a group home, they would qualify for it.”

Her daughter Tanya Sutton, 40, is an indigenous woman with quadriplegia and was shocked that she was not in the 1a priority group.

“To be honest with you, I thought it would be higher,” she said.

Tanya looks at the camera.
Tanya Sutton thought she would be high on the vaccine priority list.(((ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

If Tanya lived in a group home, she would be in Phase 1a of the rollout, but currently the disabled and older Australians caring for her at home remain 1b and vaccination is late. May be started in. march.

Rachel Sutton, 28, suffers from complex cerebral palsy and requires 24 hours of care and overnight oxygen.

Ivy fears that COVID-19 is deadly to her family.

“It’s not something you can catch a terrible cold and you can take a day to get over it-it’s definitely very life-threatening,” she said.

Mr. Ivy said he would like to make sure that the government knows that there are families in the world who are caring for people in need who are not in Phase 1a.

“It was really a panic for me all year long. Not only the fact that I’m caring for the kids, but just not knowing what’s going to happen, I’m too scared and they’re too scared to go out “She said. ..

Rachel is in a wheelchair and is fed by a caregiver. She has a beautiful smile and blue eyes.
Rachel Sutton’s mother, Ivy, fears she won’t survive if infected with COVID-19.(((ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“Justice is also important”

Dr. Xavier Symons, a postdoctoral fellow at the Planquet Ethics Center and an expert in the allocation of medical resources, said approaching vulnerable people at home was a concern.

“I’m surprised that people with disabilities in home care are in some ways more vulnerable than people in long-term care facilities,” he said.

“Living at home is more likely to be exposed to viruses like SARS-CoV-2 than if you were in a facility where the movement of visitors and staff is strictly regulated.”

Up to 16 caregivers visit the Sutton family every day.

“People with disabilities in home care are less noticeable, but this doesn’t make them so vulnerable,” Dr. Simmons said.

Dr. Simmons said older people cared for at home are also more likely to break through this gap.

“They may need to go to the clinic to get vaccinated, and this is not always easy,” he said.

A spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said work was underway to vaccinate home caregivers.

“The Australian Government and the Ministry of Health continue to work with states, territories, peak agencies and related organizations to deploy the COVID-19 vaccine, including for those who need vaccination at home,” they said. Said. In the statement.

ABC has received countless emails from an audience concerned that they and their older relatives will not be able to access the vaccine hub due to mobility issues.

“Ethically, most people take a utilitarian approach to vaccination policy,” said Dr. Simmons.

“One symptom of this is the prioritization of people at highest risk of becoming infected and becoming superspreaders: hotel quarantine workers, front-line health care workers.

“But justice is also important.”

Hunt’s spokesperson said the government had devised a vaccination deployment plan based on advice from the Australian Immunization Technology Advisory Group (ATAGI).

“ATAGI prioritized residents and staff of home-based and disabled accommodations to increase the risk of the housing environment being exposed to COVID-19,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. It was.

“People with disabilities or [who] In the case of immunodeficiency, it is included in Phase 1a or Phase 1b. ”

Rachel is in a wheelchair on the sidewalk with three caregivers, all masked.
The Sutton family is visited by 16 caregivers daily.(((ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“Decision based on medical advice”

Dr. Jane Williams is a researcher in the Australian Infectious Disease Emergency Response Research Partnership and has helped develop an ethical framework for the allocation of pandemic vaccines in the past.

“Regardless of what was happening in that particular pandemic situation, it should be healthcare workers and other … workers who are most likely to come into contact with COVID patients. [vaccinated first], “She said.

The group also said that historically, indigenous peoples deteriorated during the pandemic, so indigenous Australians should be prioritized.

Tanya strokes the assistance dog.
Tanya Sutton said she felt like a “sitting duck” at risk of getting infected with COVID-19.(((ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

However, Dr. Williams said that some of the difficulties in deploying public health are that they are not designed for individual situations, and that situations like Sutton will still exist.

“For better or worse, it’s much easier for people who don’t live in home care to quarantine,” she said.

“isolation [is] It’s difficult, but it’s a good and effective way to stay safe.

“So people who care at home cannot be as isolated as those who live at home. I think that’s the basis for that decision.”

Dr. Williams said it was a logical approach.

“For me, that makes sense. For people who have very complex health needs and are very enthusiastic about getting vaccinated as soon as possible, it’s definitely difficult,” she said.

Ivy and two caregivers take care of Rachel looking up at Ivy.
Ivy took over Rachel’s care when her sister Margaret died.(((ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Hunt’s spokesperson said the government said it was a “medical decision based on medical advice.”

“The three priority groups identified by ATAGI are essential for high-risk groups, those at high risk of developing serious illness or outcome with COVID 19 compared to other groups, and social functioning. It’s a group that works for the service, “said a spokeswoman.

Ivy said he understands that there is a limit to the number of people that can be included in Phase 1a.

“I understand that more and more people are at risk, and I fully agree that they are there, but about their awareness that there are people like us. I don’t think I understand it clearly, “she said.

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