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11th March 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines for Unpaid Carers – Update (Last update: 11.03.21)

In our January article, we highlighted the need to care for carers during the pandemic. We explained that carers who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, or are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer contracted COVID, are included in Priority 6 alongside people with underlying conditions to have a COVID vaccination.

So it’s reassuring to see that a new COVID-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) includes supporting the offer of the COVID-19 vaccination to unpaid carers, particularly those not previously known to the health and social care system. This SOP outlines the identification of eligible unpaid carers who should be invited for vaccination, the roles and responsibilities within local and national systems, and how vaccination services should work to deliver COVID-19 vaccination to unpaid carers.

Unpaid carers will be identified from a range of information sources, including those known to GPs who have a ‘carer’s flag’ on their primary care record. The JCVI has identified unpaid carers within priority cohort 6, and the definition is further clarified by the PHE Green Book on COVID-19.

However, it’s likely that up to a third of unpaid carers will already be eligible for, or already have received, a vaccine if they are aged 65+, clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), working in a frontline health or social care role, or eligible in another group within cohort 6.

There are also considerations for ‘young carers’ in the SOP, although the term ‘adult carer’ applies to unpaid carers from aged 16 only. Vaccinations won’t be offered to children under the age of 16 unless they are clinically vulnerable to COVID, and the clinical criteria for vaccination as stated by JCVI have been met. At present, only the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine is authorised for anyone aged under 18 years old. Therefore, eligible 16 to 17-year-olds will need to obtain the vaccination from their local GP vaccination service.

Those identified by the GP carer’s flag will be called by their GP practice who will be delivering vaccinations through a local Primary Care Network (PCN), so the vaccine won’t necessarily be given at their own GP practice. All other unpaid carers are being invited via the NHS call and recall service to book using the National Booking Service (NBS).

Where an eligible unpaid carer attends a vaccination appointment with the person they care for they can receive their vaccination at the same time, but will need to make this known in advance. If the carer and the person they care for are both registered with the same GP practice they should contact the surgery to check if they have been flagged as a carer on the GP practice management system. Where a letter of invitation from the NHS has been received the carer should bring this to their appointment.

GP practices will work with their local GP vaccination services to issue invitations to book by telephone or text, and there is no requirement for the unpaid carer to fill in or bring a consent form to the vaccination appointment. Although an unpaid carer may be asked to prove their identity, for the purpose of vaccination, they won’t be required to provide proof of receipt or entitlement to a carer’s allowance.

An unpaid carer's vaccination process chart is available at Appendix 1 of the SOP.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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