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Covid vaccine - FAQs

Last updated: 24 February 2021 18.25

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?

In December the vaccination programme started, with those considered most at risk 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 has begun which includes unpaid carers. 

Where do I stand?

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has included unpaid carers on the vaccination priority list (UK wide) in group 6. You may be in a group higher up the list due to your age if you are over 65. You can find the list of groups here. For further information, see our latest press release.

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

Despite there being limited supplies available initially, the government is now aiming for all adults to be offered the opportunity to receive their first dose of the vaccine by the end of July.Letters are being sent out every week which means that you might not receive your letter immediately.


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What can I do as a carer?

Register as a carer

We would encourage you to contact your local carers' organisation to register or contact your local authority for further guidance to see how the vaccine is being rolled out on a local level in your area. To find the contact details of yours, you can use our local directory: carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-support/local-support

What is the definition of a carer for priority group 6 and how do I get registered?

This is the latest JCVI definition – p10-11. In England, if you have Carer's Allowance (or an underlying entitlement), you should soon be notified by letter. If you are the primary carer of someone who is clinically vulnerable (see definition on p11) or have only recently qualified for Carer's Allowance, there are other ways you can now get registered. In England, if you are not already in contact with your local carers’ organisation and local authority, we would suggest you contact them to see if you would be eligible. Local authorities will be working with local carers’ organisations to identify eligible carers. If you live in the other nations, follow these links for further guidance:

Scotland     Wales     Northern Ireland

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. 

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 and only trust information that's available from reputable sources.


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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 may differ slightly across the nations. In England, if you receive Carer's Allowance (or have an underlying entitlement), you should receive a letter about your vaccination date very soon. Previously, registering as a carer with your GP practice was a route to ensure you were placed within group 6 of the COVID-19 vaccine priority list. Carers who have had a flag on their GP patient record have started to be called for the vaccination. If this doesn’t apply to you, you can contact your local carers’ organisation and/or local authority.

In Northern Ireland, it is now possible for carers to book their vaccine appointments online – read more. You can read the information 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 dose.Your 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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