Coronavirus vaccine FAQs for unpaid carers in England

This information covers the process in England.

Which carers are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine?

Eligible unpaid carers are in Priority Group 6 for the coronavirus vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Public Health England (PHE) Green Book  have decided that unpaid carers eligible for the vaccine are:

“Those who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable” (page 11 of the Green Book)

Those clinically vulnerable to coronavirus include:

  • Children with severe neuro-disabilities.
  • Those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) and were in Priority Group 4.
  • Adults who have underlying health conditions (and are in Priority Group 6 alongside unpaid carers).
  • Those who need care because of advanced age.

A full list of those who are considered Clinically Extremely Vulnerable can be found in this list in this government guidance and a list of those with underlying health conditions can be found in the Green Book (on pages 10-11).

If you are over 65, are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, or a frontline health or care worker, you are in Priority Group 1 to 5 and should have been offered the vaccine already based on your age or health condition. If you have not, you should contact the National Booking System as you should be offered the vaccine based on the higher priority group.

A table setting out Priority Group 1 to 9 can be found at the bottom of this page.

How will I be identified?

The vaccination programme has now reached Priority Group 6, meaning eligible unpaid carers will soon be receiving an invite for their vaccination.

For now, eligible unpaid carers will be identified in four ways. You could be identified:

  1.  If you are registered as an unpaid carer with your GP. This is known as having a Carers Flag on your primary care records.
  2. If you receive, or are entitled to, Carer’s Allowance. The Department for Work and Pensions will share this information with the vaccination programme.
  3. If you are known to the local authority as a carer, and are receiving support following a statutory carers assessment.
  4. If you are supported by a local carer support organisation.

The vaccination programme recognises that these sources will not identify all eligible unpaid carers.

Previously, eligible unpaid carers who were not known to the health and care system could book via the National Booking System. Unfortunately, due to issues with the supply of the vaccine, this will temporarily not be the case.

Unpaid carers over the age of 18 who are not already known to health and care services are now being asked to contact your GP. Your GP will ask you a few questions to determine if you are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine.

How and when will I be contacted?

Unpaid carers who are eligible under JCVI priority group 6, and who have been identified in the ways listed, are now being invited to receive their first coronavirus vaccination.

You will be contacted by the NHS when it’s your turn to receive the vaccine and will be given information about how you should access the vaccination either at a local GP surgery, pharmacy or at a large vaccination centre. Where caring responsibilities are shared, both carers can be classed as primary carers and receive a vaccination.

Carers are being contacted in phases, starting with those registered with their GP who are identified by the GP Carers Flag and those entitled to receive Carer’s Allowance.

You will be contacted by either your local health system known as a Primary Care Network (PCN) or by the National Booking System (NBS).

They may phone you, send you a text message or write to you. You may get more than one communication. Whether it’s the PCN or NBS that contact you, and however you are contacted (phone call, text or letter) you will be provided will all relevant details about how to book an appointment as well as information on the vaccination.

Some unpaid carers are now able to book via the National Booking System. However, due to how data is being passed to the NHS, this will not be all eligible unpaid carers. 

Unpaid carers who are not yet able to book via the National Booking System, are being asked to wait for their invitation. Unpaid carers who will be identified through the above channels will be contacted soon.

When you are contacted, it is up to you to book the appointment. To book the appointment as quickly as possible, you should find out what your NHS number is.

There are some scams operating, the NHS will never ask you to pay for a vaccination.

What to expect when you are contacted

You need to have two doses of the vaccine and to go to two appointments.

The first dose of the coronavirus vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the two doses of the vaccine to give you longer-lasting protection. The second dose will be given no more than 12 weeks after your first one. You may be invited to have your vaccination at:

  • A local hospital.
  • Your GP surgery or another local GP surgery.
  • A nearby vaccination centre a local pharmacy.

You will receive all the information you need to book your vaccination ahead of time and more information can be found on the NHS website. You may be contacted via more than one route and offering you the vaccination at different locations. You can choose the location which is most convenient for you.

Do I need ID to prove I’m a carer at the vaccine centre?

When you go and get your vaccine, take along with you the confirmation of your appointment, photo ID if you have it to prove your identity (such as your name) , and your NHS number if you have it. You do not need to provide proof you are a carer.

Can I have the vaccine at the same time as the person I care for?

Every possible effort will be made to vaccinate eligible carers at the same time as the people they care for. Eligible unpaid carers are encouraged to make themselves known to the vaccination service as a carer, so that they and the person they care for can both be vaccinated at the same time where this is possible.

If you are an eligible unpaid carer and you will be accompanying the person you care for to their vaccination appointment at their local GP vaccination service, and you haven’t received your invitation yet, 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 as the vaccination sites are not able to support walk-in appointments. 

I’m a parent carer for a child under 16 – am I eligible for the vaccine?

The JCVI advises that only children at very high risk of catching the virus and serious illness, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities in residential care, may be offered vaccination. If you care for a child under the age of 16 with a severe neuro disability, then you will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine.

Carers of young adults, aged between 16 and 18, will be able to get their coronavirus vaccine if the young adult they care for is clinically vulnerable to coronavirus as defined in table 3 of the PHE Green Book.

What if I am not contacted soon and think I am eligible?

Unpaid carers over the age of 18 who are not already known to health and care services are now being asked to contact your GP. Your GP will ask you a few questions to determine if you are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine.

I am a young carer aged 16 or 17 – am I eligible?

Young carers aged 16 and 17 are eligible for the vaccine within the same criteria. However, only one of the vaccines is approved for use for 16- and 17-year-olds, and it is up to the vaccine centre to ensure you get the right one. If you are an eligible unpaid carer aged 16 or 17, your GP will contact you. If you are not sure if your GP knows you are a carer, you should contact them.

If you need help you can contact your GP or local young carer services.

If you are under 16, you are not eligible for the vaccine as they have not been approved for use with those under 16, apart from specific clinical circumstances set out by the JCVI.

Safety 

The vaccines have been approved for use by an independent regulator. You can read more information on the NHS website.

Further information

Priority Groups

1

Residents in care homes for older adults

Care home workers

2

All those aged 80 and over

Frontline health and social care workers

3 All those aged 75 and over
4

All those aged 70 and over

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

5 All those aged 65 and over
6

Adults aged 16 to 65 with underlying health condition

Unpaid carers aged 16 – 65 (who meet eligibility criteria above)

7 All those aged 60 and over
8 All those aged 55 and over
9 All those aged 50 and over

If you have any questions you can contact:

Your local carer service.

Our Carers Trust Policy team

Date revised: 10/03/2021