“I thought four attempts for a second jab might be some sort of record but apparently not! There are others struggling for various reasons,” says David Sellars of his 22 year old son Matthew, who is now double vaxxed for Covid-19.
Matthew has severe autism as well as a profound intellectual disability. He is unable to express consent, as well as have any kind of discussion around whether or not to choose to get vaccinated, so David had to make the choice for him. “We have a number of people in our family who are immunocompromised, so everyone in our bubble who could get vaccinated did so.”
In accordance with recent health workplace vaccine requirements, it’s also the reason why one of Matthew’s current caregivers is no longer working for them. “She’s a really lovely person and Matthew took to her really well, however, she was against getting vaccinated,” says David. “Although there is a bit of wriggle room in the mandate, the limited exceptions didn’t apply for her and besides, we need double vaccinated caregivers on account of our immunocompromised family members.” He adds that they respected each other’s decisions and parted on good terms.
What advice would you give other carers on how to minimise the stress around getting a vaccination for someone in your care? “Stiff drinks!” David says. “But seriously, every situation is different. If you’re caring for someone who can have a rational discussion around it, that would be the first step. For someone like Matthew, the best advice I can give is to do it quickly. His first jab was straightforward, however his subsequent fear of the needle made the following appointments a battle.”
They tried different settings, from David’s GP to Matthew’s former school. In the end, it was back to the GP but having a male doctor and a nurse on hand to assist.
“Even then it was tough going.” David says they had to weigh up Matthew’s fear of the procedure against protecting him and others around him, and how important it was to consider the wider implications of all decisions around vaccination.
“But he’s protected now so it’s worth it.”