As the UK begins to unlock, we know that there is still a high level of uncertainty for all carers. You may be worrying about starting to go to busier places, or interact with more people. Or about going back to the office and being able to spend less time with the person you care for. We have answered some of the most request questions below, and provided links to useful services/information which should help.
What are the current restrictions?
We recommend keeping an eye on the government website to find out what restrictions remain in your area here.
Many carers look after someone who is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, while the guidance is the same for the whole population it is important to carefully consider what precautions you, and the person you care for should continue to take.
Should continue to wear a mask/face covering?
The current advice is that you should continue to cover your face when in a crowded place or on public transport. If you are caring for someone you do not live with it is recommended that you still use the appropriate PPE.
What is the current advice for vulnerable people?
Current advice is to follow the same guidelines as everyone else. But there are still things you can do to keep safe, such as meet with people outdoors rather than indoors. Have a look at the NHS advice here.
UK COVID Travel advice
There are no COVID travel restrictions in the UK. However, we know that many carers are anxious about the practicality of moving around the country, for a holiday or not. It might be worth thinking about how busy places might be – service stations may still be limiting the number of visitors inside which can make accessing the amenities difficult. Popular resorts may be busier than usual – if you’re travelling with a vulnerable person, you will need to consider the risk posed by crowded places.
If you are planning on having a holiday abroad in 2021, the UK has a traffic light system in place. Current advice is that you should not travel to any country on the UK travel Red List. Different rules apply for countries on the Green and Amber Lists, you should check for recent updates here.
If you are wondering whether you can travel without a covid vaccine, the answer is yes, however different restrictions sometimes apply to those who have and have not been vaccinated.
It is important that you consider the implications of travelling abroad using this system as it is possible that a country can be moved from one list to another with little warning. Should you be forced to isolate on return, how would this impact the person you care for? Or if the person you care for is travelling with you, how might this impact their health (mental and physical)? You can find out full information on the traffic light system, including which countries are at risk of moving lists here.
Can I travel after the COVID vaccine? Yes, you should have no issue travelling after having the COVID vaccination. In the unlikely even that the vaccination makes you seriously unwell you should seek medical help.
Will I need a COVID vaccine to travel? You may need to have both vaccines in order to avoid quarantine on return to the UK. We recommend keeping up with the current advice here.
Worried about going back to the office?
If you are worried about going back to the office and being able to spend less time caring, we recommend you contact your GP or local service to find out what options are available to you. You might benefit from an updated Carers Assessment and Needs Assessment to determine the level of care/support you and your loved one need. If you would like to look for other local services, have a look at our directory here.
Unpaid carers COVID vaccine information – what’s next?
Early in 2021 we were all asking ‘can unpaid carers get the COVID vaccine? or ‘when will unpaid carers get the COVID vaccine?’ Now, we are asking when the COVID vaccine booster will be available for carers? Are there the same priority groups for the booster jabs?
It is not yet clear where unpaid carers sit on the priority list for COVID vaccine booster jabs. Like the first rounds of vaccinations, it seems those who are classed as vulnerable to covid-19 or with health conditions that make them clinically vulnerable, are prioritised along with the elderly. It is likely that the person you care for will fall into one of the first groups to be offered the third covid vaccination, in stages, from September:
The following persons should be offered a third dose COVID-19 booster vaccine and the annual influenza vaccine, as soon as possible from September 2021:
- adults aged 16 years and over who are immunosuppressed;
- those living in residential care homes for older adults;
- all adults aged 70 years or over;
- adults aged 16 years and over who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable;
- frontline health and social care workers.
- all adults aged 50 years and over
- adults aged 16 – 49 years who are in an influenza or COVID-19 at-risk group. (please refer to the Green Book for details of at-risk groups)
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals’
It is hoped that the Joint Committee on Vaccination (JCVI) will confirm when unpaid carers will be offered the vaccine.
If you have not yet received your first dose of the COVIF vaccine, you should visit the NHS website or call 119 to book.
Important things to consider
You may wish to arrange for someone to look after the person you care for while you are attending your appointment and ensure that you have help on standby should you feel unwell in the days after your vaccine. You can contact your local carer support organisation, who may offer a sitting service, to arrange support for your loved one. Have a look at our directory to find local organisations who can help you.
You need to be registered with a GP in order to book a vaccination. You can do this on the NHS website if you are not currently registered.
Is the vaccine safe?
The NHS website states:
The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met very strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. They can cause some side effects but not everyone gets them.
Find out more about the possible side effects here.
Covid vaccine and the flu jab
You should have both the flu jab and the COVID vaccination. You should wait a week between having the flu jab and getting the COVID vaccine. Speak to your GP for further information.
Can I rearrange my vaccine appointment?
You can visit the NHS website to cancel or rearrange your vaccination appointment. You may find an appointment becomes available at a centre closer to you, or at a more suitable date or time.
Are my family members eligible for a vaccine?
Anyone over the age of 18 is currently eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine. If you live with an immunosuppressed individual, you may be eligible for the third vaccination earlier. We recommend checking on the NHS website or contacting your GP for further information.