The call follows the recent Government announcement that unpaid carers are now included in the vaccination rollout within priority cohort 6 currently taking place, and are being called forward for their first dose.
Justine Bailey, 51, is one of an estimated 280,000 unpaid carers living in Greater Manchester. She shares caring responsibilities for her 90-year-old father-in-law and for her 22-year-old son Robert, who has autism, ADHD and severe mental health difficulties.
Wanting to keep her family and herself safe, Justine, who lives in Trafford, was quick to ensure she was known to her GP as the vaccine rollout began and is now urging others to do the same.
Justine, who sits on Greater Manchester parent carer workstream group, said: “It was so important to get the vaccine as soon as possible. My husband and I need to look after ourselves so we can continue to provide care to the people we love the most.
“My father-in-law is clearly vulnerable to coronavirus so it was a relief to be able to get the vaccine and I’m happy I now have that peace of mind.
“It has stopped me from worrying as much as the thought of unknowingly carrying the virus as a carer is no longer at the forefront of my mind. It takes away so much anxiety, allowing us to get on with what we need to do which is caring for our loved ones.”
As part of Robert’s care, Justine ensures he has the correct medication, that he gets enough sleep and is eating correctly, which she balances alongside the day-to-day needs of her father-in-law and her role in the parents’ forum. She also routinely checks in on the mental health and wellbeing of both of them to ensure they have everything they need.
She has urged her fellow parent carers to get vaccinated and has now had a first dose of the AstraZeneca jab. She added: “Many of the members of Trafford Parents’ Forum didn’t realise they could get the vaccine. I would encourage people not to think twice about it, especially to those with additional caring responsibilities like myself.
“To be honest, I was chomping at the bit and was relieved once I got a text from the NHS to book an appointment. It was all very straightforward, and was all done and dusted in 10 minutes.”
Jo Chilton, Programme Director for the adult social care transformation programme at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We recognise and value the absolute vital role unpaid carers play in supporting people to stay safe and well.
“It is so important that all carers and the people they support and care for are protected from COVID-19, so please come forward if you believe you are eligible.”
Unpaid carers are now being invited to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination, providing they:
- Are eligible for a carer’s allowance
- Are identified as a primary carer by their GP
- Are receiving support following a carer’s assessment by their local council or from a local carer’s organisation
- Are the sole or primary carer who provides close personal care or face to face support for an older or disabled person who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19
Those who are identified as a primary carer on their GP’s register or eligible for a carer’s allowance will be invited first, followed by those who have had a statutory carer’s assessment by their local council or are receiving support from local carers organisation.
All eligible unpaid carers will be contacted by the NHS when it’s their turn to receive the vaccine and will be given information about how they should book their appointment. This will either be at a vaccination site in their local community supported by their GP practice, or at a large vaccination centre.
Unpaid carers over the age of 18 who are not already known to health and care services can contact the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by ringing 119 to complete a short application process to determine if they are eligible to book their vaccination appointment.
You must be over 18 to book using the national booking service and you will need to provide your name, date of birth and your NHS number. For more information visit www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine.