Life as a high-risk carer: On vaccines, school, and one year rolling into another.

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It’s been a year now, hiding away in our home in an attempt to avoid serious illness – or death – during a global pandemic. It’s been a year like no other. It’s been harder and lasted longer than I could have ever imagined.

Until my very high risk son Brendan Bjorn is vaccinated, our year hiding rolls into more than a year.

Until I am vaccinated, being high risk with multiple underlying conditions, our year hiding rolls into another which continues to send waves that have me struggling to tread water in this unprecedented storm called a pandemic.

This week last year, I made the decision to pull my two sons out of school. I knew enough to know that what was about to hit us would be very dangerous. I know more about viruses than I ever wish I had to learn. But, as it was and as it is, I do understand, and so I made the decision before the government closed the schools. I wrote this piece last year about that decision.

In the year since, it’s been a fight to keep my youngest son, Declan, home to protect both his brother and me and receive remote learning. It has not been a fight, though, to keep Brendan Bjorn home. He’s very high risk, so he’s entitled to stay home.

Viruses are communicable. Transmissible. And some, very deadly. This is why the world has been brought to her knees with this pandemic. So why have I had to fight for remote education for Declan, knowing full well that him sitting in a classroom with 30 other teenagers in a school of 800+ teenagers would exponentially increase the likelihood of COVID19 entering our home?

I now await word on if Declan’s school, once they reopen next month, will continue to provide remote education for him or not. I’ve written to them, asking if they would please continue so he can progress to second year with his class when he joins them in person this September once Brendan Bjorn and I are vaccinated. Now, I wait.

I also wait for the call from the GP to say when Brendan Bjorn and I can come in for our first inoculation. People aged 16 and up who have underlying medical conditions which put them at very high risk have been moved up the vaccination priority list. Where will she decide Brendan Bjorn is on that list? Where will she decide I am on that list? I don’t know. Now, I wait.

I seem to have spent the last year waiting, and so far, nothing has changed in that regard.

This evening, I watched the news of 320,000 students returning to school today in Ireland. Neither broadcast I watched mentioned that children can get very ill with COVID19 or that they can, and do, transmit it to their family members in the home. There was no mention of the dozens of children hospitalised with COVID19 in the past few months with school closed…and there was certainly no mention of how the now predominant variant B117 is much more transmissible – and it wasn’t the COVID19 variant last time schools were open, but it is now.

Read this report compiled by Parents United Ireland (click here) for detailed information on COVID19 and Irish schools.

I am afraid this is a disaster waiting to happen.

It is one wait I hope doesn’t have a result that I expect.

photo by Tracy McGinnis