BBC broadcaster Jo Whiley has expressed her concern that she was offered the coronavirus vaccine in the UK ahead of her sister Frances who has special needs and has since tested positive for Covid-19.
After appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday, Whiley tweeted that Frances had tested positive but is "doing ok".
Feel like I'm in a terrible film with bad plot twists.— Jo Whiley (@jowhiley) February 16, 2021
Late last night I got a call to say that Frances, my sister, had tested positive & has COVID.
Our worst fears realised after keeping her safe for a year & with a vaccine so close... she’s ok so far.. Everything crossed ???? pic.twitter.com/ia5Lr2z2Xv
The Press Association reports that the 55-year-old presenter had earlier told the programme that she would give up her place on the vaccination list "in a heartbeat".
Whiley said that the care home where Frances lives suffered an outbreak of Covid-19 last week. She described the effect on her sister's mental health as "quite extreme", and said for the first time Frances had refused to take calls from family members.
"Oh my God, I can't tell you how frustrating it is and how horrendous it is," Whiley told the programme.
"It is the stuff of nightmares at the moment. I feel like I am living through a nightmare.
"All weekend it has been awful - really, really difficult. It has been hard for my parents, it has been hard for everyone in the care home, and it continues.
"And then, ironically, I got a message to say I was due to have my vaccine before my sister who has got learning difficulties and underlying health conditions. Go figure."
"All I think about all the time is god I hope her next test is negative"@JoWhiley's sister Frances, who has learning disabilities, lives in a care home with a Covid outbreak but hasn't been offered a vaccine - but Jo herself has.— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) February 16, 2021
Frances has since tested positive. #R4Today pic.twitter.com/pDKShMw4Nn
Over 15 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine. The UK's NHS initially targeted the top four priority groups, including people over the age of 70 and health and care staff, aiming to offer the jab to everyone in this group by mid-February.
Whiley said she did not know why she had been called to receive the vaccine, but suggested it may have been because she is a carer for her sister.
"I fail to understand, to be honest with you," she continued.
Blimey, the irony. I've just been asked to book my vaccine. I desperately wish my sister had been offered the vaccine before me. I am fit & healthy. She has Learning Disabilities and diabetes. ???? pic.twitter.com/0J5AfUqb6d— Jo Whiley (@jowhiley) February 15, 2021
"Myself, my parents and the home have done everything we can to try and facilitate the vaccine coming in to the people who need it the most.
"She is in tier six but she also has quite bad diabetes, which in my understanding puts her in tier four because she has an underlying health condition, so I would have thought that she would have been vaccinated, but that hasn't happened.
"And I suppose what I am doing is just wanting to speak up for people like Frances, people who live in her care home, who have been overlooked, because this happens so often.
"People with learning difficulties are neglected. They haven't got a voice, they haven't got anybody there. Just badgering everybody, saying, 'What about me? Help me out here'."
"And I would give up my vaccine in a heartbeat if I could for my sister and any of the residents in her house to have their vaccine. It just does not feel right," she added.