On the anniversary of the publication of Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice on priority groups (30 December 2021), Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“When the pandemic started and until we had the vaccination, carers told us that they were extremely worried not just about the health of the person they cared for, but also about what would happen if they were ill and unable to care at a time of highly stretched health and care services. Being a priority for the vaccination was high on carers’ list of concerns in October 2020 in Carers UK’s Caring Behind Closed Doors research. Identification as a carer has always been highly valued, along with having the right support.
“Getting vaccinated more quickly has made a very positive difference to unpaid carers and means a great deal. Many carers have told us in our State of Caring 2021 survey how it has helped reduce very high levels of anxiety and gives peace of mind. Whilst the pandemic continues to place extreme pressure on families providing unpaid care for disabled, ill or older relatives, the vaccination programme has been a really important way of protecting them and the people they care for and is still helping to identify carers with GP practices and is providing a legacy for the future.
“If any unpaid carers haven’t yet had their boosters, or first or second vaccinations, we encourage you to book as soon as you can and get yourself protected.
“We have been really pleased to see that the vaccination process for unpaid carers has led to the largest ever exercise identifying carers in GP practices by placing a flag on their patient records. Although this was good practice prior to the pandemic, implementation was patchy. The COVID-19 vaccination programme has accelerated identification and has provided a sound and solid foundation for quick recall for any future vaccinations as well as the possibility of targeting other public health measures, information and advice more quickly and effectively in the future. This solid progress for carers needs to continue longer term and hopefully become a standard part of practice within primary care.”