On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the Downing Street press briefing. He was joined by Dr Nikki Kanani, the Primary Care Lead for NHS England. Dr Kanani’s message around the COVID vaccinations was clear. They are safe and you should come forward if you are eligible. However, I know that there may be COVID vaccination hesitancy amongst blind people of my age. This followed concerns over the link between the vaccine and rare blood clots. Whilst concern is understandable, those living with sight loss cannot afford any such hesitancy.
Vaccinations are important for blind and vision impaired people because they find it difficult to judge how far they are from other people, which is essential for social distancing. Blind people and those with sight loss, navigate unfamiliar environments with the support of a sighted guide. The technique involves lightly gripping the arm of a sighted person.
When travelling independently, sighted guiding is often carried out by members of the public. This creates issues for both parties. Being guided by somebody who is not in your household, particularly if you haven’t been vaccinated, increases the risk of infection. This risk applies to both the guider and the person being guided.
The blind and vision impaired are more likely to touch surfaces whilst navigating both indoor and outdoor spaces. For example, it’s common to trail along a banister whilst climbing a staircase. The virus can be contracted from contact with surfaces so vaccination is vital in order to reduce the risk of both infection and transmission.
So, do not delay. Log onto the NHS website or contact your GP surgery to organise your vaccination.