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Unpaid carers

The national COVID vaccination programme includes unpaid carers in priority group 6. This means that in certain circumstances unpaid carers will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
This is extremely positive news to help protect carers and the person they care for. This will also allow the NHS to identify the large numbers of people who we believe are performing significant caring roles but who do not have access to the care and support that they may be eligible for.

Many individuals who perform caring roles have already received their vaccine. There are still appointments available at Stithians and Wadebridge showgrounds and there may be people who have not received an invite who are now eligible to book a vaccine.

By getting vaccinated unpaid carers can help protect themselves from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, so they can continue to be there for their family, friends, and the people they care for.

Please read the questions and answers below which may have further helpful information.

Who decides who is vaccinated and when?

The national Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decides the priority groups and order for which people should be vaccinated.

The priority groups for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination programme are based on the prevention of deaths from COVID-19, the protection of health and social care and protecting those at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 and hospitalisation. This means that those who are at greatest risk clinically of being infected and becoming seriously ill from COVID will be vaccinated first.

Am I eligible for the COVID vaccine?

If you are an unpaid carer you may be eligible for a COVID vaccine.

Cohort 6 of the national COVID-19 priority groups include those who are in receipt of or who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, receive the carer component of universal credit 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.

Being eligible for a carer’s allowance means if you need to spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone. You don’t have to live in the same house or be related to the person you look after to be a carer. This means that not all unpaid carers will be eligible for a vaccine at this current time. As the vaccination programme rolls out more people will become eligible for the vaccine.

What if I am not eligible to receive a carer’s allowance, or have never applied for a carers allowance, will I still be able to get my vaccine?

So long as you are the sole or primary carer who provides close personal care or face to face support for an elderly or disabled person who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, you will be eligible to get your COVID-19 vaccine.

What do I need to do to get the vaccine?

If you think you may be eligible for a COVID vaccine because you perform caring roles, please complete the unpaid carers vaccine check form.

If you need help with completing the form please call Kernow Carers Service on 0800 587 8191 or 07739 788842 and a team member will call you back. You can also email

For more information about support for informal carers please visit the Cornwall Carers Service website.

What age do you need to be to receive the vaccine?

People over the age of 18 years and over can receive the vaccines.

People who are 16 and 17 years may be able to receive a specific vaccine if their circumstances allow.

The person I am the prime carer for is due to have their vaccine-can I be vaccinated at the same time?

This could be possible. If the person vaccinating is satisfied that you are the primary carer in close contact with the person you care for and that they are clinically extremely vulnerable, then they can decide to vaccinate you at the same time if they have sufficient vaccine available at that time.

I am a parent carer who provides care to a child or young adult with a special educational need or disability, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Almost all children with COVID-19 have no symptoms or mild disease. 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 COVID-19 vaccine.

I am a carer for someone with a mental health condition. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The nature of unpaid care is broad, and the roles and responsibilities that carers provide vary both in scope and intensity. It can include help with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed and personal care such as bathing, helping with shopping and housework, and emotional support, like helping someone to cope with the symptoms of a mental illness.

If you are the sole or primary carer for someone who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 then you will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine as an unpaid carer. This includes those with severe mental illness, such as individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment.

What if the person I care for has more than 1 carer?

Where caring responsibilities are shared equally and both carers are critical to continuity of care for a person who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, they will both be eligible to receive a vaccination.

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