Family Carers Ireland is deeply concerned at comments reportedly made by the Health Minister at this week’s Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting regarding the vaccination of family carers.

The Irish Examiner reports today that in response to a number of his party colleagues calling for family carers to be prioritised for vaccination, Minister Stephen Donnelly said that “if a healthy carer is vaccinated, it reduced the number of vaccines to be administered to those being cared for in the home”.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy with Family Carers Ireland is disputing this claim:

“A large number of family carers are caring for loved ones under the age of 16 and therefore the person they are caring for is not yet being vaccinated which contradicts the Minister’s statement. Also if that same logic were to be applied to healthy paid care workers, would they then not be prioritised?

The failure to include family carers as a priority group for vaccination is causing huge upset and concern. While some fall under the categories outlined for priority due to their age or own health conditions, many will not. Who will care for the ‘vulnerable’ person if their family carer falls ill with Covid and at what cost to the State, not to mention the pressure this would put on our already over-burdened hospitals?”

There are approximately 116,000 full time family carers in Ireland presently in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant which is a non-means-tested payment paid to those providing in excess of 35 hours per week of care in the home for a loved one. If this group were to be prioritised, it would go a long way towards supporting family carers providing high levels of care for vulnerable loved ones in the home.

Family Carers Ireland has seen a letter (dated January 13th) from the Office of the Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE in response to a question from Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson David Cullinane which states that family carers “are likely to be considered in the key worker group” which is under category six of the priority listings. This is at odds with comments made by the Health Minister in the Dáil last week that “family carers as a group are not in any individual cohort” and “may fall into different cohorts, based on age, for example”.

Family Carers Ireland has written to the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination requesting that family carers are included as a priority group for vaccination; and are part of the IPPOSI coalition seeking vaccination prioritisation. It has pledged to continue to lobby strongly on this issue to ensure family carers are not forgotten.

“It is vital that our Government understand the necessity to bring family carers into the priority categories for vaccinations as a matter of urgency,” added Ms Cox.

Family carers who need support with any aspect of their caring role, can contact the National Freephone Careline 1800 24 07 24 or see for more