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Carers UK warmly welcomed the news that unpaid carers will now be included in the autumn vaccine booster programme for COVID-19 as well as the annual flu campaign where they are eligible for a free jab.

There was great uncertainty earlier in the year when the interim guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) did not list unpaid carers as a potential eligible group for the autumn booster programme. With infections on the rise and many unpaid carers still very worried about the risk of COVID-19, Carers UK immediately raised these concerns with Government and secured assurances from the Secretary of State that the role of unpaid carers would be considered by the JCVI.

Today’s announcement also re-affirmed the fact that unpaid carers are eligible for a free flu jab.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK said:

“This is great news that unpaid carers have been included in the autumn COVID-19 booster programme as it’s something that we have raised many times with Government. The booster programme has been vital to unpaid carers protecting themselves as well as the people they care for against infection. It’s been a great measure for identifying carers, also making them feel better valued because they are being made a  priority group.

“The truth is that the health and social care system would collapse if unpaid carers became ill and were no longer able to care or if they passed the infection on to the person they cared for. Carers have been worried sick about bringing infection home since the start of the pandemic and this will really help to protect them and provide greater resilience.

“We should not have had to campaign on this, though. Unpaid carers have been left out of three interim announcements making us really concerned each time about whether or not they would be included, despite the incredibly important role that they have in caring for older, disabled and ill relatives and friends. If we’re in this situation again, we want the JCVI and Government to include carers up front and early, giving us peace of mind and recognising unpaid carers’ role properly.

“Carers UK will do all that we can to encourage carers to identify themselves as carers with GP practices and come forward for their jabs at the right time. We look forward to continuing to support the NHS with its roll-out programme for the booster and flu jabs."


Notes to Editors:

1. When the JCVI delivered its interim guidance on priority groups for the COVID-19 autumn booster programme in May 2022 unpaid carers were not mentioned. This also happened with the 2021 interim guidance from JCVI and with the initial vaccine priority list in December 2020.

2. Carers are defined in Table 3 of the Green Book as follows: 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 COVID19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable. Clinically vulnerable by JCVI is described as: Those clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 are defined by the JCVI priority groups: a) children of any age with severe neuro-disability, severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities (including Down’s syndrome and those on the learning disability register) or immunosuppression (as defined in table 4), b) adults who have underlying health conditions leading to greater risk of disease or mortality as defined in table 3, c) those of advanced age

3. The full list of eligible groups is below. Under the advice, those eligible for a further dose will be:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
  • Frontline health and social care workers*
  • All adults aged 50 and over
  • Those aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group**, including pregnant women
  • Those aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • Those aged 16 to 49 years who are carers*** (definition taken from the Green Book, Table 3 in note 2 above).

4. Unpaid carers are also a group of people who are eligible for a free flu jab.

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