As of tomorrow (Monday 15th February), unpaid carers will be included in the next phase of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and will begin to be called forward for their first jab.
Unpaid carers are in cohort six of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s priority list for the vaccination. Unpaid carers are defined by the JCVI as “those in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill”.
Carers UK welcomes the news that unpaid carers will be called forward in this next phase after the national charity led calls for them to be included in the JCVI priority list when they were left out of previous announcements. These calls saw the JCVI include unpaid carers clearly in cohort six on 30th December 2020.
The JCVI recognised that where the main carer for an older or disabled person falls ill with COVID-19, the welfare of the person they care for would be at serious risk.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“The Government, NHS and those administering the COVID-19 vaccines have made excellent progress in the last 10 weeks.
“Being called for the vaccine in this next phase will bring many unpaid carers a huge sense of relief, having carefully managed the risk of the virus to themselves and their older or disabled relatives for almost a year.
“Carers should wait to be called to book an appointment, and once vaccinated some of the hardest-pressed carers will be able to access support with their caring role for the first time in many months.
“This will be the biggest identification programme of unpaid carers ever carried out and should see more carers connected to local support systems.” It will involve new and fast collaborative working between carers’ organisations, carers, local health systems, the DWP and local authorities which we hope will leave a strong legacy for carers in the future.”
NHS England has written to GP practices and Primary Care Networks asking them to start focus on the vaccination of unpaid carers, as well as the other eligible groups announced today.
The letter also includes the welcome suggestion that where unpaid carers are registered at a practice within the same Primary Care Network as a person at risk, to look at vaccinating them at the same time, if clinically appropriate. This includes housebound visits. This is something that carers have been calling for and Carers UK welcomes.
Eligible carers will be contacted via the National Booking System to receive an invitation to book their vaccination. The GP guidance also states that local areas can flex these arrangements to administer the vaccine to carers directly.
Carers UK looks forward to seeing the publication of NHS England’s Standing Operating Procedure, due to be published next week, which will detail exactly how eligible carers will be identified and contacted for their jabs.