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Covid vaccine - FAQs

Last updated: 1 April 2021 9.21

What is the latest news on the vaccine?

We have compiled the latest details about the COVID-19 vaccine to answer your most common queries.

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When will we be able to have the vaccine?

Those considered most at risk from COVID-19 are being offered the vaccine first. With everyone in the top four priority groups having now been offered their first jab, the next phase of the vaccine roll-out, which includes many unpaid carers, is well underway. 

Where do I stand?

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has included eligible unpaid carers on the vaccination priority list (UK wide) in group six. You can find the list of groups here. For further information, see this Gov.uk page.

Although there is an overarching UK plan, each nation’s roll-out programme differs in terms of process and logistics – for an overview, please see 'What are the details of the vaccination programme where I live?'

The government is aiming for all adults to be offered the opportunity to receive their first dose of the vaccine by the end of July, and notifications are being sent out every week.


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What can I do as a carer?

What is the definition of a carer for priority group six and how do I get registered?

The JCVI define carers who qualify as: ‘Those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.’ For further details, see the JCVI definition – p10-11

In England, if you haven’t been called up yet and believe you are eligible for a vaccine, it is advisable to register at your local GP practice, according to the latest NHS guidance. To clarify your status as a carer, it might help to use our template letter.

If you have received a vaccine invitation from the NHS, you can still book through the national online booking system. Please note that it is no longer possible to book through this system unless you have received an NHS notification advising you to do so. You should automatically be notified about your vaccine if:

  • you have been receiving Carer's Allowance or have an underlying entitlement
  • you are receiving support following a carer’s assessment
  • your GP record already records that you are eligible as a carer.

There are lots of benefits to being recorded as an unpaid carer on your GP record. It helps your GP to know, so that you can be advised of local support services and prioritised for certain vaccines including COVID-19 and the flu vaccine. You can refer to this government guidance for more information.

In Scotland, unpaid carers (aged 16-64) will be invited to get their coronavirus vaccine by phone or letter and it is possible to self register if you provide regular face-to-face care. In Wales, information about a self-referral process is provided in the link below and our tailored guidance for carers is available here. In Northern Ireland, a self-referral scheme has been in place for carers – but now, you may need to contact your local trust to check if you can register. Follow the relevant link below for further guidance:

England    Scotland     Wales     Northern Ireland   

Can I get vaccinated at the same time as someone I care for? 

Every effort will be made to ensure that you can be vaccinated at the same time as someone you care for if you are accompanying them to their appointment. If you wish to receive your vaccination at the same time, you must make this known to the GP surgery in advance to confirm an appointment. Note that the vaccination sites are not able to support walk-in appointments.

Will I have to prove my status as an unpaid carer when I go to get my vaccine? 

When you go and get your vaccine, it’s advised that you take along with you the confirmation of your appointment, photo ID to prove your identity, and your NHS number (if you have it). You should not have to prove that you are a carer for more information, see this government guidance (page 8). However, we have heard that some people have been asked for proof, so you may wish to take something with you to indicate your status just in case. If you don’t have photo ID, you won’t be turned away but you might have to prove your identity in another way – for example with your name and date of birth and address.

What can I do to prepare for the vaccine? 

  • When notified about your vaccine, book your appointment as soon as possible.
  • Take steps to arrange alternative support for the person you are caring for while you are at your vaccination appointment. If you need help to arrange this, please contact your local council (trust in Northern Ireland) or local carers organisation.
  • Read the coronavirus vaccination leaflet so you know what to expect when being vaccinated.
  • Ensure you have some time to rest afterwards.

Seeking information 

If you have any questions about the vaccine, it may be helpful to look at reputable sources, such as the NHS site, and make a few notes in advance of your appointment so that you can gain clarity about any concerns. You may wish to provide additional reassurance to someone you care for about the protection the vaccine could offer them, both now and in the long term. 

It is also worth looking at the websites of local carers' organisations or trusts. The roll-out is likely to differ from area to area, and many of these provide useful details about what options will be available where you live.

Watch out for scams

A false NHS text message has been circulating requesting that you click on a link to apply for a vaccine. It then takes you through to a fake NHS website platform requesting more information. For further details on how to spot this, see this helpful link from Which?.

We would also urge you to spread the word among friends and family about scams like this, and only follow information that's available from trustworthy sources. No one should be claiming that you need to pay for the vaccine as there are no shortcuts (see below).


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Will I need to pay and how will I be notified?

You will not need to pay for the vaccine. It will be rolled out through the NHS and you will be notified about the process of getting one. It is advisable to be wary of any schemes suggesting that paying is necessary which are likely to be scams.

When it's your turn, you will be contacted by the NHS. You may be contacted by phone, email, letter or text so it's a good idea to keep an eye on all your channels.

You may be asked to go:
- to hospital
- to local GP practice or community pharmacy
- to a vaccination centre
- or special arrangements will be made if you are unable to travel.


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Will the Covid vaccine be safe?

The vaccines cannot be approved by the UK regulator (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - MHRA) until they have been rigorously tested to meet the highest safety standards. Therefore, at this stage of public roll out, we can be assured that they have met these standards.


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How will this work alongside the flu vaccine? Will we need to leave a gap?

The current recommendation is that there should be a gap of at least seven days in between the vaccines according to the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).

You will be contacted directly when it is possible for you, or those you care for, to receive the vaccine and it is important to discuss any concerns you might have with a medical professional.


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Where do private carers (paid care workers), who are employed via a direct payment, sit within the priority list?

Personal Assistants or private carers are covered in the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) list under priority 2 – you can find out more here.

Local authorities should be communicating with direct payment (or personal budget) employers and assisting with information as well as covering costs to enable that worker to attend an appointment.

If you have a private carer and would like more information, we would suggest you contact your direct payment lead at the local authority for further guidance.  


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What are the details of the vaccination programme where I live?

The roll-out of the programme will differ slightly across the nations. You can contact your local carers’ organisation and/or local authority (or trust if you are based in Northern Ireland) for clarity if you're unsure if you are eligible to receive the vaccine at this stage. 

You can read the guidance specific to where you are based here:

England     Scotland     Wales     Northern Ireland


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Will I lose my appointment if I can't reach a vaccination centre?

A number of new vaccination centres have recently opened to assist with the roll-out of the vaccines. Some people have expressed concerns that they cannot travel easily and worry they may miss out.

If you have been advised to travel to a vaccination centre but cannot get there – for example if you're assisting someone you care for who's too vulnerable – we would suggest that you contact your local GP to explain your circumstances and ask what alternative arrangements can be set up for you. You should not lose your priority position because of this and you/ the person you care for will still be able to receive the vaccine.


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What is the expected waiting period between the first dose and the second dose?

In order for the vaccine to be most effective, two doses of the vaccine are neededThe second dose is likely to be scheduled for up to 12 weeks later than the first and you should be notified about this when you receive your first doseYour GP will be able to advise you if you have any questions.


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After we have been vaccinated, do we still need to be socially distancing ourselves from others?

Absolutely. It is essential that you carry on following the rules around social distancing after having both the first and second doses of vaccine to keep everyone safe.  

It is not yet clear that immunisation will stop the spread of transmission even if it protects against illness and deathTherefore we are all advised to continue following the rules whether vaccinated or not. In addition, experts say that it can take two weeks after vaccination for immunity to take effect. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for clarity.


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What can I expect after having the vaccine?

Any side-effects you have from the vaccine are likely to be mild and short-term. See this page for more details. If you are at all concerned, call NHS 111. It does take a few weeks before the protection from the vaccine takes effect so if you do have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, it is still vital to self-isolate and get tested.

You should also be notified of when your appointment for the second dose of vaccine will be. This should be between three and 12 weeks after your first dose. For answers to other common queries, see this information from Gov.uk.


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What if the person I care for has more than one carer? 

Where caring responsibilities are shared equally and both carers are critical to continuity of care for a person who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, they will both be eligible to receive a vaccination.


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I am a parent carer who provides care to a child/young adult with a special educational need or disability. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Almost all children with COVID-19 have no symptoms or mild disease. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that only children at very high risk of catching the virus and serious illness, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities in residential care, maybe offered vaccination. If you care for a child under the age of 16 with a severe neuro-disability, you will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine.


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Who should I contact if I am unsure if the person that I care for is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, or I think they should be included as someone who is clinically vulnerable?  

If you are unsure whether the person you care for is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, speak to your GP and they will be able to advise you. A list of people who are defined as clinically vulnerable can be found in table 3 of the PHE Green Book. A hospital clinician or GP can also add a patient to the list, based on their clinical judgement, because they consider them to be at very high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.


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I am a carer for someone with a mental health condition. Can I be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine as part of group six?

If you are the sole or primary carer for someone who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 as defined in table 3 of the PHE Green Book,  you will be able to be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine as an unpaid carer. This includes those with severe mental illness, such as individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment.


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