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Carers UK welcomes unpaid carers’ inclusion in autumn COVID-19 vaccine booster programme

Carers UK warmly welcomed the news that unpaid carers will now be included in the autumn vaccine booster programme for COVID-19 as well as the annual flu campaign where they are eligible for a free jab.

There was great uncertainty earlier in the year when the interim guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) did not list unpaid carers as a potential eligible group for the autumn booster programme. With infections on the rise and many unpaid carers still very worried about the risk of COVID-19, Carers UK immediately raised these concerns with Government and secured assurances from the Secretary of State that the role of unpaid carers would be considered by the JCVI.

Today’s announcement also re-affirmed the fact that unpaid carers are eligible for a free flu jab.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK said:

“This is great news that unpaid carers have been included in the autumn COVID-19 booster programme as it’s something that we have raised many times with Government. The booster programme has been vital to unpaid carers protecting themselves as well as the people they care for against infection. It’s been a great measure for identifying carers, also making them feel better valued because they are being made a  priority group.

“The truth is that the health and social care system would collapse if unpaid carers became ill and were no longer able to care or if they passed the infection on to the person they cared for. Carers have been worried sick about bringing infection home since the start of the pandemic and this will really help to protect them and provide greater resilience.

“We should not have had to campaign on this, though. Unpaid carers have been left out of three interim announcements making us really concerned each time about whether or not they would be included, despite the incredibly important role that they have in caring for older, disabled and ill relatives and friends. If we’re in this situation again, we want the JCVI and Government to include carers up front and early, giving us peace of mind and recognising unpaid carers’ role properly.

“Carers UK will do all that we can to encourage carers to identify themselves as carers with GP practices and come forward for their jabs at the right time. We look forward to continuing to support the NHS with its roll-out programme for the booster and flu jabs."

Posted: 28th July 2022