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Alzheimer Europe calls for prioritisation of people with dementia and carers in COVID-19 vaccination programmes across Europe

Friday 07 May 2021

On 7 May 2021, Alzheimer Europe issued a call for people with dementia and their carers to be given priority in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaigns across Europe. In its position statement, Alzheimer Europe notes that people with dementia have almost twice the risk for developing COVID-19 compared to their peers without dementia, with high rates of hospitalisation and a risk of mortality within six months of approximately 20% in certain populations. Those who become infected are also more prone to developing delirium, which can complicate the management of their current and future cognitive health.

Currently, countries vary significantly in their prioritisation of different groups for COVID-19 vaccination. The vast majority of European countries have prioritised frontline healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and the oldest old in the first phases of vaccination, with a smaller number also prioritising social care personnel and professional carers. A small number of European countries, recognising dementia per se as a risk category for severe COVID-19, have prioritised people with dementia for COVID-19 vaccination. However, in the majority of countries, neither people with dementia, nor informal carers have been specifically identified as priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination, despite their increased risk.

Alzheimer Europe notes the disproportionate impact of the pandemic already experienced by people with dementia and their carers, as a result of service cancellations, care home restrictions etc., and accordingly, makes the following three demands of European governments: Include dementia as a risk category for severe COVID-19, prioritising people with dementia for the COVID-19 vaccine, independent of age, place of residence or other risk factors for severe COVID-19.

Prioritise informal carers for the COVID-19 vaccine, acknowledging their important contribution during the pandemic to the care, support and even survival of people with dementia, as well as the indirect protection vaccination can confer for the people for whom they care.

Ensure that reasonable accommodations are made and that support mechanisms are in place when organising and rolling out the vaccine to people with dementia, such as the possibility to be vaccinated at home and to have decision-making support, if required.

Commenting further, Alzheimer Europe’s Executive Director, Jean Georges, stated: “People with dementia and their carers have often been overlooked and forgotten during this pandemic. Particularly during the early stages of the outbreak, public health measures designed to control the spread of the virus have had profound and often tragic consequences for people with dementia, their families and carers. Governments must recognise that people with dementia, their families and carers have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and ensure that people with dementia and their carers will not be overlooked again in the development and implementation of vaccination strategies. We urge governments across Europe to revise their approaches to vaccination campaigns and prioritise people with dementia and their carers, allowing a return to some semblance of normality for this vulnerable group.”

To download the position paper and the briefing document visit: http://bit.ly/AEPositionCOVIDVaccine

 

The position and briefing document received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). The contents represent the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

 

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