'Get the jab for the sake of those in your care'

The British Islamic Medical Association confirm that having the vaccine during Ramadan doesn’t inv

Many older adults are now due for a booster at six months - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee joint report into the official response to the coronavirus pandemic is a devastating assessment of "one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced".

Its indictment of "fatalism" and "groupthink" in delaying the lockdown is all the more damning as the inquiry was led by Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, both former ministers in the party running the country under the leadership of Boris Johnson.

The report confirms the catastrophic toll of deaths in residential care homes, estimated at 39, 000 over the first year of the pandemic. This includes several members of my family – and it leaves out many more, notably those with underlying health conditions and learning disabilities, who died in their own homes or in hospitals. The report summarises the familiar failings – patients discharged untested from hospitals, inadequate PPE, long-standing staff shortages – that resulted in one of the worst mortality rates in Europe.

Mary Langan. Picture: Luke Dixon

Mary Langan urges those who were waiting to have the vaccine to get it - Credit: Luke Patrick Dixon Photography

The only compensation comes from the Covid vaccination programme, judged "one of the most successful and effective initiatives in the history of UK science and public administration".

Now, when cases continue at a high level around the country, is the time to press ahead and reap the full benefits of this programme. Some people – even some working in social care and the health service – have delayed getting a jab until we gain more experience of possible adverse effects. We have now had nearly 12 months of mass vaccination in countries around the world, and measures have been taken to reduce the risks of even very rare adverse events. Let’s hope they will now come forward and get protection for themselves, their families and for those they are caring for.

Many older adults, who had both jabs earlier in the year, are now due for a booster at six months. This – together with the flu jab – will help them through the winter. And now young people, down to the age of 12, can get a single jab to help protect themselves and their families – and to help to keep the schools open and get life back to normal.

Mary Langan is chair of the Severe and Complex Needs Families Reference Group (SCALD)

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