FAMILIES of children with life-limiting conditions should take priority for the Covid-19 vaccine, a charity has told Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

In a letter to Freeman and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, advocacy charity Kindred says parents whose children have complex disabilities should also be amongst the first to receive doses of the vaccine, expected to arrive this winter. It says many fear contracting the virus would leave them unable to look after their vulnerable youngsters.

Families in this group began shielding before lockdown and parents are getting by on an average of just five hours of broken sleep a night, it says.

Kindred director Sophie Pilgrim stated: “Many parents received no respite care before the pandemic, and those that did lost their care with lockdown.

“Serious sleep deprivation puts parents at risk of depression, accidents and long-term conditions.

“We need to recognise the long-term exhaustion of these families.

“Special schools are all the more important and need to be supported to carry on their excellent work and to keep their doors open.”

Pilgrim said: “As the vaccine becomes available, we must prioritise parents who are providing medical care for their children and cannot afford to get sick themselves.”

The Scottish Government has said that it will “prioritise to protect those considered to be most at risk, in line with the forthcoming final advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations”.

A spokesperson added: “The Health Secretary has already committed to providing more details to Parliament on the delivery of Covid-19 v accines and ... she aims to do this shortly.”