8th January 2021 

MUST READ INFORMATION FOR UNPAID CARERS AGED 16 TO 64

The government has recognised that the need for unpaid carers to receive the COVID 19 vaccination is a priority. The government has done this through the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises on all vaccines and their use across the UK. You will find below the exact wording of what the JCVI has said followed by our answers to questions you may have.

If you are an unpaid carer aged over 64 you are already in one of the first categories of vaccination recipients because of your age (see list below)

What the JCVI said

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI): advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination 30 December 2020.

Introduction

This advice is provided to facilitate the development of policy on COVID-19 vaccination in the UK.  JCVI advises that the first priorities for the current COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. Secondary priorities could include vaccination of those at increased risk of hospitalisation and at increased risk of exposure, and to maintain resilience in essential public services.

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality. This also includes those who are 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.
  7. all those 60 years of age and over
  8. all those 55 years of age and over
  9. all those 50 years of age and over


GCA answers to questions you may have

What is the change?

Unpaid carers aged 16 to 64 have been added to the previous vaccination schedule and placed in Category 6 (see above list)

Does this change affect all unpaid carers?

It mainly affects unpaid carers who are aged between 16 and 64 years of age. As the COVID-19 virus affects older people more than younger people the older you are the earlier you will get the vaccination. Everybody aged 80 plus with an unpaid caring role is in the category 2 already because of their age. Likewise people with an unpaid caring role aged 75 and over are in the third round of vaccinations, those aged over 70 are in the fourth round of vaccinations, those aged over 65 are in the fifth round of vaccinations.

For those aged between 16 under 64 it could mean that you will be able to get your vaccination several weeks or months earlier

I provide unpaid care to a family member or friend what should I do?

If you have not already done so you should immediately contact your GP surgery and inform them that you are an unpaid carer and wish to register as an unpaid carer. Unless you do that your GP will not know you provide unpaid care and you are likely to miss out on the chance of receiving the vaccine earlier.

You should specifically mention that your age (18 to 64) and your caring role put you in Category 6 of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule

What if I don’t get Carers Allowance?

It does not matter if you receive Carers Allowance or not. If you are providing unpaid care to a family member or friend you are an unpaid carer.

If your GP practice says you are not eligible to move to Category 6 of the vaccine schedule you should point out firmly that;

  • You are, under UK law (The Care Act 2015), an unpaid carer.
  • In addition, Government guidance sets out clearly in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI): advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination that Category 6 of the vaccine schedule;

includes those who are 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

  • Insist that you are legally eligible to be included in Tier 6 of the schedule for COVID-19 vaccination

What does the government mean when it says ‘disabled person’?

The Care Act 2015 is clear that;

‘The adult’s needs for care and support arise from or are related to a physical or mental impairment or illness …. This includes if the adult has a condition as a result of physical, mental, sensory, learning or cognitive disabilities or illnesses, substance misuse or brain injury.’  Substance misuse includes drug and alcohol misuse

To simplify things, if you are providing unpaid care and support to someone who would struggle to manage their daily lives without your support because of their health and social care needs then that person has a ‘disability’ and you are an unpaid carer.  Disability includes almost every health condition including substance misuse, mental health and long standing illnesses, physical disability, learning disabilities, sight loss, dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s etc.

Can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the person I care for?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have stated in their guidance that there should be some flexibility in how the vaccine is distributed.

‘JCVI appreciates that operational considerations, such as minimising wastage, may require a flexible approach, where decisions are taken in consultation with national or local public health experts. To be assured that outcome is maximised however, JCVI would like to see early and regular comprehensive vaccine coverage data so that the committee can respond if high priority risk groups are unable to access vaccination in a reasonable time frame.’

This means, that whilst there is no definitive agreement that you can be vaccinated at the same time as the person you care for you should ask your GP if this is possible and you may get agreement to do this.

The person I care for cannot be left alone. How will I get a vaccine?

We are expecting news shortly which will explain how and when health services will vaccinate people who are housebound. This is likely to mean that both you and the person you care for are likely to be vaccinated at the same time.

If you or the person you care for is housebound you should immediately inform your GP to ensure that your GP is aware of the situation. If your GP is not aware of this you will not be placed on the ‘housebound list’ for home COVID-19 vaccination.