People told to shield from Covid-19 and their families are facing another devastating lockdown as the virus takes hold once again in Northern Ireland, it has been warned.
The mother of a teenager who is deemed clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) has spoken of her fears for her family as case rates here rise exponentially, with 511 cases confirmed yesterday.
Christine McClements has urged officials to extend the vaccination programme to CEV children aged 12 and over to ensure families do not have to return to shielding.
Mum-of-three Christine, whose 13-year-old daughter Lilia is disabled due to a rare genetic disorder, said: “It’s hard to feel like we haven’t been forgotten.
“There are vulnerable people who haven’t been protected by vaccination, either because they can’t be vaccinated, the vaccines don’t work, or they aren’t old enough to be vaccinated.
“I would like to see measures like masks stay in place, I just feel like we know they are effective in reducing transmission, so why wouldn’t we keep using them for the sake of people who are vulnerable?
“We were starting to look forward to being able to relax a bit and enjoy the summer months but the way cases are rising, it’s getting to the point where we’re going to have to retreat again.
“My other children are going into Year 13 and P6 in September, two very important years, I want them to be able to go to school and not have to worry about bringing home a virus that is very dangerous to their sister.
“My husband and I work, my three children all go to different schools, so that’s the risk associated with them mixing with all those different household, that’s a huge concern for us.
“I would like to see vaccinations rolled out to children over 12 who are clinically extremely vulnerable to at least offer them some protection from Covid.
“So many families are under threat at the moment, we’re not the only ones in this position, there are thousands of families out there in the same boat.”
Last week, Health Minister Robin Swann said he believes the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is due to recommend that the programme is extended to clinically extremely vulnerable children over the age of 12.