Guidance for carers
Here, you can find answers to common questions from carers about the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters.
Do I qualify for a booster vaccine?
Check the relevant link if you still need to book a booster or vaccine for yourself or someone you care for: England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
If you are new to caring, we would suggest you contact your GP and let them know that you are a carer. We also recommend contacting your local carers’ organisation to find out how carers can be supported if you need to arrange this on behalf of someone.
Older individuals, frontline health workers, carers and those who are considered to be clinically vulnerable will be prioritised for the autumn vaccine programme.
The booster jabs should take place in the same priority order as the first vaccination phase according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). This means that carers will continue to be in group six for the booster jab, but you may qualify to have one sooner. Check for England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
As with the flu vaccine, you will be able to receive your booster jab at a local medical practice such as your GP practice or pharmacy. We understand that carers will be contacted by the NHS when it is time to arrange a booster jab, but you won't necessarily be called forward unless identified as a carer.
If you are new to caring, we would suggest you contact your GP and let them know that you are a carer. We also recommend contacting your local carers’ organisation to find out how carers are being identified locally. You will be contacted when it’s your turn or you can check if you can book one directly (see links above).
You will also be able to receive the free flu vaccine this winter if you are eligible for that too.
Everyone is encouraged to continue to take up the offer of the booster, when possible, to provide ongoing protection especially to the most vulnerable.
As a result of previous lockdowns, it is expected that the flu virus will be more severe this winter so everyone eligible is also encouraged to take the flu vaccine (including unpaid carers).
The following groups were offered COVID-19 vaccines this autumn:
- older care home residents and care home staff
- frontline health and social care workers
- all adults aged 50 plus
- persons from 5 to 49 in a clinically at risk group
- persons from 5 to 49 who share a household with people who have immunosuppression
- carers (from 16-49).
You can apply for the vaccine using the national online booking system.
Across the UK, if you haven’t been called up yet, it is advisable to request one as soon as possible unless you are exempt.
There are lots of benefits to being recorded as an unpaid carer on your GP record. It helps your GP to know, so that you can be advised of local support services and prioritised for certain vaccines including COVID-19 and the flu vaccine. You can refer to this government guidance for more information. It may be helpful to clarify your status as a carer – see our template letter.
In Scotland, unpaid carers should have been invited to get their coronavirus vaccine by phone or letter. You can register to get the vaccine on the NHS inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013. Most health boards also have drop-in vaccination clinics or you can register online. In Wales, all unpaid carers are being encouraged to register here if you haven't already received your vaccine. Contact your local health board if you've not been offered your jab yet. In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are another option. See the relevant link for more details:
If you wish to receive your vaccination at the same time, you must make this known to the GP surgery in advance to confirm an appointment. Note that the vaccination sites are not able to support walk-in appointments.
Every effort should be made to ensure that you can be vaccinated at the same time as someone you care for if you are accompanying them to their appointment.
When notified about your vaccine, book your appointment as soon as possible.
Take steps to arrange alternative support for the person you are caring for while you are at your vaccination appointment. If you need help to arrange this, please contact your local council (trust in Northern Ireland) or local carers’ organisation.
Read the coronavirus vaccination leaflet so you know what to expect when being vaccinated.
Ensure you have some time to rest afterwards.
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.
It is also worth looking at the websites of local carers' organisations or trusts. The roll-out is likely to differ from area to area, and many of these provide useful details about what options will be available where you live.
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?.
Action Fraud's website states that there has been a recent increase in medical/NHS related email and text message scams. If you feel worried that you or someone you know has been affected, you can contact Action Fraud.
We would also urge you to spread the word among friends and family about scams like this, and only follow information that's available from trustworthy sources. No one should be claiming that you need to pay for the vaccine as there are no shortcuts (see below).
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 a local GP practice or community pharmacy
- to a vaccination centre
- or special arrangements will be made if you are unable to travel.
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.
The current recommendation is that there should be a gap of at least seven days in between the vaccines according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
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.
The roll-out of the programme will differ slightly across the nations. You can read the guidance specific to where you are based here:
Any side-effects from the vaccine or booster should be mild and short-term. If you continue to feel unwell, it is important to get a test for COVID-19 and self-isolate as a precautionary measure. The possible side-effects you might experience can be found on the NHS website.