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Unpaid carers urged to get vital Covid-19 vaccination

The NHS in Calderdale is urging people aged 16 and over who provide vital care and support for others to come forward for their vaccination.

Carers of elderly or disabled people are included in priority group 6, as recommended by the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations. However, there are concerns that some people may be missing out on getting the vital jab because they do not know they are eligible or think of themselves as a carer.

People who receive Carer’s Allowance or are already registered with their GP as a carer should have already been invited for an appointment. However, anyone who is the main carer for an elderly or disabled person is also eligible and the NHS is working with Calderdale Council and local carers’ organisations to help them to get their vaccination as soon as possible.

Anyone over 16 who provides regular or intense care and support for someone they live with or are in a bubble with should contact their GP practice to register for a vaccination.

Dr Steven Cleasby, a GP at Spring Hall Group Practice in Halifax and Chair of NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“It’s estimated that there are over 200,000 people in West Yorkshire who look after a family member or loved one, but we know many may not see themselves as a carer. However, their support is vital to that person’s wellbeing and we want to make sure they have their vaccination, so they are protected both for their own sake and for the person they care for.

“By registering for a vaccination, people will also be marked as carer with their GP practice, which will help them to access other support to help look after themselves, as well as the person they care for.”

Janine Wigmore, who cares for her son, said:

“As a carer it was so important to me to have a coronavirus vaccine – knowing that by protecting myself I would be able carry on supporting my disabled son who needs me. 

“… In getting vaccinated myself I am helping to protect him. My son has a severe learning disability and other health conditions. If he became ill with COVID-19 this could be very dangerous, and if he had to go to hospital this would be hugely traumatic for him. 

“It was easy to check that I was registered as a carer with my GP surgery, and then I received an invitation by text. The whole process was very quick and efficient. I’m now looking forward to getting the second dose and will feel very relieved and reassured to have the best protection available.”

During the pandemic several organisations formed the Calderdale Disability Advisory Group, which works alongside health authorities to make sure the interests of carers and people with disabilities are represented in Calderdale’s response to COVID-19.

Katie Clarke, a parent carer and development manager at the Accessible Calderdale Group, said:  

“Calderdale’s Disability Advisory Group has worked really well, because it’s ensured the voice of carers and disable people has influenced the vaccine programme.

“We were really pleased to see that local NHS organisations listened, responded and were proactive in getting carers’ vaccinated ahead of other regions.

“When I had my vaccine, it was a simple process and everyone was very welcoming and helpful, and I’d urge everyone to be vaccinated a soon as soon as they’re able to.”