Jo Whiley reveals she’s been offered the vaccine BEFORE her vulnerable sister


Radio presenter Jo Whiley has blasted being offered a Covid vaccine before her disabled sister who lives in a care home – and who has now reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

The ‘fit and healthy’ BBC Radio Two host, 55, says it is ‘mind boggling’ that she has been offered a jab before younger sister Frances – who has complex learning difficulties.

And she she would give up her vaccine ‘in a heartbeat’ in favour of it going to those in a situation such as her younger sister.

Frances, 53, suffers from a rare genetic syndrome called Cri du Chat – a chromosomal condition that results in delayed development.

She was moved into a care home in Northamptonshire in 2015 after her ‘challenging behaviour’ resulted in her needing specialist care.

But the former Radio One DJ said her ‘blood ran cold’ when her and her family were informed of a Covid outbreak at the care home. 

She is now calling for the Government to prioritise those with learning difficulties for the vaccine.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today Programme, which has since reported that Frances has recently tested positive for Covid, Ms Whiley said:  ‘We’ve done everything we can to try and facilitate the vaccine getting to people who need it most.

On Monday, the 55-year-old revealed that she had now been offered the vaccine herself, writing 'I desperately wish my sister had been offered the vaccine before me. I am fit and healthy'

On Monday, the 55-year-old revealed that she had now been offered the vaccine herself, writing ‘I desperately wish my sister had been offered the vaccine before me. I am fit and healthy’

Jo Whiley pictured with her sister Frances; the Radio 2 star has been vocal in her criticism that it has taken so long to get her sibling, who has diabetes and learning difficulties, vaccinated

Jo Whiley pictured with her sister Frances; the Radio 2 star has been vocal in her criticism that it has taken so long to get her sibling, who has diabetes and learning difficulties, vaccinated 

Jo, pictured with her sister Frances, told followers that  her sister had been left 'distressed and confused' by a Covid outbreak at the care home where she lives

Jo, pictured with her sister Frances, told followers that  her sister had been left ‘distressed and confused’ by a Covid outbreak at the care home where she lives 

‘She (Frances) is in group six but she also has diabetes quite bad diabetes, which should put her in group four.

‘I would have thought she should have received it, but she hasn’t. I just want to speak up for people like Frances, who have been overlooked, because this happens so often with people with learning difficulties, who haven’t got a voice.

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What is Cri du Chat syndrome? 

Cri du chat syndrome, also known as ‘5p minus’ syndrome, is a chromosomal condition that results when a piece of chromosome 5 is missing.

The name comes from the name ‘cat cry’ or ‘call of the cat’ because of one of its key identifying symptoms – a cat-like cry that those with the condition make as children.

Other symptoms include severe cognitive, speech and motor disabilities and behavioural problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, outbursts and repetitive movements.

There are also physical symptoms, with those who have the syndrome often having smaller heads and widely-spaced eyes (hypertelorism). 

Diagnosis is primarily based on the distinctive cry and accompanying physical problems 

The syndrome, first discovered in 1963, affects around 1 in 50,000 live births and is slightly more common in women than men. 

The condition is untreatable, though children can undergo speech and physical therapy to help with some of the symptoms. 

‘I can’t tell you how frustrating it is and how horrendous it is. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

‘Then ironically I got a message to say I was due to have my vaccine, before my sister, who has learning disabilities and underlying health conditions, go figure.’  

Ms Whiley, who thinks she has been offered the vaccine due to her status as a carer for her sister, added: ‘My mind is boggling it really is, and I would give up my vaccine in a heartbeat for my sister and any of the residents in that care home.’

The radio presenter has been vocal on her social media platforms about trying to get her younger sister Frances, who has diabetes and learning difficulties, the vaccine. 

The broadcaster said it had been a ‘long, anxious weekend’ after there was an outbreak of Covid at Frances’ care home in Northamptonshire. 

NHS England only officially moved onto the next stage of the roll-out yesterday, inviting over-65s and adults with underlying conditions. The national guidance up until now was to focus on the four priority groups — over 70s, NHS staff, care home residents and workers, and seriously-ill adults.

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But over-60s in some areas leading the way in the vaccine roll-out have already been contacted. NHS bosses say local health teams can make their own way down the list of nine priority groups, so long as they have attempted to reach everyone above them. 

Official figures suggest that more than 2million Brits in the top four priority groups have still yet to be vaccinated, despite ministers saying they have all been offered a jab. 

She told her followers: ‘Still no vaccination for Frances and now there’s an outbreak of COVID in her care home. 

‘Staff are doing all they can to keep everyone safe but it’s the stuff of nightmares. She’s distressed and confused, my parents and I never more scared and sad for her.’

Yesterday afternoon, the 55-year-old revealed that she had now been offered the vaccine, saying it made the fight to get Frances vaccinated ‘ironic’.

She wrote: ‘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 and healthy. She has learning disabilities and diabetes.’  

Whiley is the latest in a string of celebrities sharing on social media that they have been offered the jab.   

US singer Courtney Love became the latest star to get the injection yesterday at an NHS clinic in Chelsea, West London. 

The 56-year-old – whose representatives say has an underlying health condition that makes her eligible – left Los Angeles and relocated to London in the autumn of 2019.

On Sunday, Nigella Lawson claimed her head was ‘in a spin’ at being offered the Covid vaccine. The 61-year-old TV chef revealed she had been sent a text message on Valentine’s Day inviting her to book an appointment.

Nigella Lawson, 60, has said her 'head is in a spin' at being offered the Covid vaccine - ahead of thousands of over-65s elsewhere in the country - on Valentine's Day

Nigella Lawson, 60, has said her ‘head is in a spin’ at being offered the Covid vaccine – ahead of thousands of over-65s elsewhere in the country – on Valentine’s Day

Nigella is not the only 60-year-old celebrity to get booked in for their Covid jab, with This Morning's Ruth Langsford revealing she was vaccinated on Monday

Nigella is not the only 60-year-old celebrity to get booked in for their Covid jab, with This Morning’s Ruth Langsford revealing she was vaccinated on Monday

Meanwhile, Ruth Langsford, the 60-year-old This Morning presenter, said she was ‘so grateful’ to receive her first vaccine on Saturday, thanking everyone involved in an Instagram update. 

And Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don, 65, also praised the NHS after getting his first dose on the same day. It’s not clear whether any of the TV personalities have underlying conditions that would bump them up the queue.

British reality show host Nadia Essex, 39, who has no health issues, is thought to be the youngest celebrity to be offered a vaccine. She revealed she was ‘going for it’ last Thursday after asking her fans for their opinion.

The handful of cases underline the disparity in the speed at which older people are being offered the vaccine in different places across the country. Wales has already began inviting over-50s, while Northern Ireland started offering appointments to over-65s in January.

NHS England only officially moved onto the next stage of the roll-out today, inviting over-65s and adults with underlying conditions. The national guidance up until now was to focus on the four priority groups — over 70s, NHS staff, care home residents and workers, and seriously-ill adults.

But over-60s in some areas leading the way in the vaccine roll-out have already been contacted. NHS bosses say local health teams can make their own way down the list of nine priority groups, so long as they have attempted to reach everyone above them.

Official figures suggest that more than 2million Brits in the top four priority groups have still yet to be vaccinated, despite ministers saying they have all been offered a jab.



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