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Carers UK calls for more action to ensure carers get their flu jab this winter

20 November 2020
  • Research by the charity finds 45% of unpaid carers identified by their GP were not directed towards having a flu jab last winter
  • Those age 50-64 and caring for fewer hours, or newer to caring, were least likely to be directed towards having a flu jab
  • Carers UK highlights need for targeted campaign to encourage carers aged 50-64 to get their flu jab

Research by Carers UK has found that nearly half (45%) of unpaid carers known to their GP were not directed towards having a flu jab last year.

This is despite NHS England guidance in place stating that people who receive Carer’s Allowance, or who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, are on the priority list for receiving a free flu jab.

Many more unpaid carers do not get their flu jab because they haven’t formally recognised their caring role and therefore haven’t mentioned it to their GP.

Carers UK is highlighting the need for a targeted campaign to encourage carers to get their flu jab this winter.

Of the 1,450 unpaid carers aged 55-64 and living in England that were surveyed by the charity last year, 71% said they had been identified by their GP as carer. However, people who had started caring in the last four years, were juggling a job alongside caring, or caring for someone who did not live with them were the least likely to be identified by their GP and therefore not recommended a flu jab.

Now as the NHS faces a challenging winter during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that there is consistent public messaging encouraging carers to have their free flu jab to keep themselves and the person they care for safe. 

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“Despite unpaid carers being eligible for a free flu jab, we know that a significant proportion haven’t formally recognised their caring role or aren’t aware they’re eligible, so don’t get vaccinated. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic it is more important than ever that carers are encouraged to get vaccinated.

“We welcomed the Government’s decision to expand the flu vaccination programme to 50 – 64 year olds and raising awareness amongst this age group will help ensure many more unpaid carers get a jab and are able to keep themselves and the people they care for safe this winter.

“We need to see clear, consistent public messaging targeted at unpaid carers to ensure that they know they are eligible, and GP practices should be proactive in identifying unpaid carers and encouraging them to book a flu jab.”

Unpaid carers are prioritised for a free jab because of their critical caring role. The current guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) does not include carers as a priority group for any COVID-19 vaccination. Carers UK is calling for unpaid carers to be included in any COVID-19 vaccine priority list, recognising the vital support they provide.

Read Carers UK's report, Carers’ access and attitudes to flu jabs

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