Covid-19 Carer Support
Action for Family Carers has been working throughout the pandemic supporting Carers of all ages across Essex.
We are keen to understand the main worries, concerns and questions that many people have.
Our team of Carers Leads is here to support you through this difficult time and to help you have the confidence to get out and about again, when the time is right for you.
Cara Jenny Toni
You may have questions about getting the vaccination, testing, when and how to self-isolate, what is a vaccine passport, how you can register as a Carer with your GP practice and particularly where can reliable information be found. The information below may help and we will update it as necessary to make sure this page is useful to you. Do let us know if there is other information you would like to see here.
Up-to-date Government information is available by searching NHS Coronavirus (COVID 19) but for some, this is not an option. You can also call 119. Calls are free and the service is open 7am – 11pm. This is a call centre and cannot provide clinical advice. For information about your health please call 111, or in an emergency 999.
It is important that your GP practice knows you are a Carer. You should not assume you're registered because the practice knows you care for someone; you need to formally register. This may be important in accessing booster jabs.
Carers UK has provided the following guidance and downloads for registering as an unpaid Carer with your GP:
A number of GP surgeries have a simple form on their website to help you register as a Carer, but we have heard that this is not always the case.
It is more important than ever to be identified as an unpaid Carer to ensure that you are correctly prioritised in group 6 for the coronavirus vaccine. Below are some helpful letter templates to help you register with your GP, please click on the relevant link below to download the template that you require.
Please note, these templates refer to legislation in England, but can be adapted for use across the UK.
Template letter to register with your GP (email version)
Template letter to register with your GP (print and post version)
If you're an unpaid Carer then you are invited to register with us directly here at AfFC. You can call us on 0300 770 8090, email firstname.lastname@example.org or live chat with us at www.affc.org.uk.
How to book a vaccine
This can be done online NHS Book or manage your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination or by calling 119.
The recommended interval between first and second doses is now eight weeks.
There is more information on our fact sheet Booking Covid Vaccination.
If you are not sure whether to get your 1st or 2nd vaccination, we are happy to guide you to the most reliable sources of information so that you can make your own mind up -based on facts, not rumours.
You could look at NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines side effects and safety or for a more detailed report of reported side effects visit GOV.UK Coronavirus vaccine – weekly summary of Yellow Card reporting
If you want to get your jab but need practical help e.g. if you can’t leave the person you care for, then talk to us – we may be able to help. Email email@example.com or call 0300 770 80 90.
The Covid vaccination is free – but beware – there are scams out there. Read our information sheet Covid Fraud.
Third vaccine for those severely immunosuppressed
It is now recommended that people in this category aged over 12 (includes those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants) should be offered a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. This is separate from the booster programme.
See more advice from Public Health England.
Carers UK responds to JCVI advice on Covid-19 booster vaccine
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has today issued its advice on those eligible for the Covid-19 booster vaccine.
The JCVI list includes unpaid adult Carers as part of the groups who will be part of the booster programme.
Carers receiving Carer’s Allowance or who are identified as receiving support from a local authority / Carers Organisation (including Action for Family Carers) are now being called for booster vaccinations.
Third Booster Vaccines are now be offered to the following groups:
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 50 years or over
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and adult Carers
- adult household contacts (aged 16 or over) of immunosuppressed individuals
The booster dose will be offered no earlier than 6 months after your last vaccine.
If you have had a positive Covid-19 test, you must wait four weeks from the test date before booking your booster jab.
Read the full Carers UK response.
Future Vaccination Programmes
To ensure Carers are called up for any future Covid -19 vaccinations, NHS Call and Recall will send a letter to identified Carers. Carers can then show this letter to their GP practice and request their status as ‘Carer’ is noted on their medical records. Source NHS Primary Care Bulletin.
These are being updated continuously. No need to book but please check the website carefully as some sessions are for specific ages.
17-year-olds that are within 3 months of turning 18. If you are under this age you cannot yet book an appointment but will be contacted by the NHS. However, see the above section links for age-specific walk-in sessions for 16 and 17-year-olds.
People aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
The government is preparing to deliver a schools-based vaccination programme, which is the successful model used for vaccinations including for HPV and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP), supported by GPs and community pharmacies. Invitations for vaccination will begin next week.
Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programmes.
Healthy school-aged children aged 12 to 15 will primarily receive their Covid-19 vaccination in their school with alternative provision for those who are home-schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings.
The vaccination is now available for people aged 16 and 17. We have specialist workers experienced in supporting younger adults and will be happy to talk through the options with you.
Flourish with Jo Morton-Brown
Each video created by Jo Morton Brown, Emotional Health Practioner, will have a professional focus where different topics are discussed such as: emotions of feeling anxious/ stressed/ overwhelmed, the importance of finding a new routine, self-care, etc. It also suggests additional resources/ helplines for further support.
The Covid-19 vaccine is available to all pregnant women at any point during their pregnancy. If you’re expecting, here are five key reasons why you should get the jab.
1) Getting two doses is the best way to protect yourself from Covid-19
If you’re pregnant, getting both doses of your vaccine is the best way to protect yourself – and those around you – against Covid-19. Although the overall risk from Covid-19 for pregnant women and their unborn babies is low, some women may become seriously unwell and need hospital treatment in later pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnant women who become seriously ill with Covid-19are unvaccinated.
2) Covid-19 disease can be serious in pregnancy
While overall the risk remains low, pregnant women with Covid-19have a higher risk of intensive care admission than women of the same age who are not pregnant. Women with Covid-19 disease are also 2 to 3 times more likely to have their babies early than women without Covid-19. Pregnant women with underlying clinical conditions are at even higher risk of suffering serious complications from Covid-19.
3) The Covid-19 vaccines used in the UK are safe and effective for pregnant women
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are recommended for pregnant women in the UK
Pregnant women who have already had the AstraZeneca vaccine however are advised to complete with the same vaccine. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to discuss these with a healthcare professional looking after you in your pregnancy.
4) The vaccines might offer your unborn child some protection against Covid-19
Research suggests that protective antibodies in response to the vaccines can be passed from mother to newborn during pregnancy and through breast milk after birth. While it’s likely these would help protect newborns from Covid-19, more research is needed to determine how much protection these antibodies would give or how long that protection would last.
5) There is no current evidence of any serious side effects for pregnant women
The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) thoroughly monitors any suspected side effects involving pregnancy and Covid-19 vaccination.
The current evidence does not show an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth following vaccination against Covid-19. There is also no pattern from the reports to suggest that any of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the UK increase the risk of congenital anomalies or birth complications.
The vaccines do not contain living organisms that can multiply in the body, so they cannot infect an unborn baby in the womb.
For further advice, speak to a healthcare professional looking after you in your pregnancy.
For more information about pregnancy and the Covid-19 jab go to the Combined info sheet and decision aid 17.08.2021 issued by The Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
How the NHS protects against flu
Flu is unpredictable. The vaccine provides the best protection available against a virus that can cause severe illness. The most likely viruses that will cause flu are identified in advance of the flu season and vaccines are then made to match them as closely as possible.
The vaccines are given in the autumn ideally before flu starts circulating. During the last 10 years, the vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu virus circulating.
The harm flu can do
People sometimes think a bad cold is flu, but having flu can often be much worse than a cold and you may need to stay in bed for a few days. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu. For them, it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even death.
Those at increased risk from the effects of flu
Flu can affect anyone, but if you have a long-term health condition, the effects of flu can make it worse even if the condition is well managed and you normally feel well. You should have the free flu vaccine if you are:
or have a long-term condition such as:
- a heart problem
- a chest complaint or serious breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or some people with asthma
- a kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- liver disease
- had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a learning disability
- a problem with your spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
- you are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
This list of conditions isn’t definitive. It’s always an issue of clinical judgement. Your GP can assess you to take into account the risk of flu making any underlying illness you may have worse, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself.
Summary of those who are recommended to have the flu vaccine includes:
- everyone aged 65 and over
- everyone under 65 years of age who has a medical condition listed above, including children and babies over 6 months of age
- all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
- all 2 and 3 year old children (provided they were aged 2 or 3 years old on 31 August of the current flu season)
- all children in primary school
- all Year 7 to Year 11 secondary school-aged children
- everyone living in a residential or nursing home
- everyone who cares for an older or disabled person
- all frontline health and social care workers
Those aged 50 to 64 years old will also be offered flu vaccination this year.
For advice and information about the flu vaccination, speak to your GP, practice nurse, pharmacist or school immunisation team.
It is best to have the flu vaccination in the autumn or early winter before any outbreaks of flu. Remember that you need it every year, so don’t assume you are protected because you had one last year.
Booking a Flu Jab
Your GP will contact you
Use this NHS link to Find a pharmacy that offers the NHS flu vaccine. This may be quicker than booking with your GP.
Alternatively, just choose a preferred Pharmacy and book on their website. For example, Boots Winter Flu Jab Service.
Do you know how to access the different types of tests and when you need them?
If you don’t have symptoms – new continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell but want to be sure you are not spreading the infection you can take a Lateral Flow test at home. The current guidance is that lateral flow tests should be taken twice a week These are available to everyone and can be posted to you via GOV.UK Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests or call 119.
If you would rather collect free tests, they are available at chemists and some libraries. To find out where enter your postcode on NHS Find where to get rapid lateral flow tests.
If you do have symptoms you need a PCR test (either booked at a testing site or sent to you then returned by post) You can leave self-isolation to get a test at a test site or to take a home test to a priority post box.
To book either home or site test go to GOV.UK Get a free PCR test or call 119.
You may need to have a test before a hospital procedure. If so, the hospital will arrange this.
If you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive you may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace who may advise you to self-isolate and will give you guidance on when you will be able to leave your home again.
If you have a specific question you can visit NHS Test and Trace Digital Service or if you cannot get online or your enquiry is urgent call 119.
If you are isolated at home and have no one to help you with shopping or medication then contact Essex Wellbeing Service on 0300 303 9988.
Although shielding has now ended, some people have been told they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV). They may be organ transplant patients, people with some cancers or severe respiratory conditions. People who have been told they are in this group have been told to be extra cautious.
The current advice is to:
- Get your vaccination as soon as possible
- Avoid indoor crowded situations particularly if people are not wearing masks
- Ensure rooms are well-ventilated when mixing with others
- Wash hands
- Do not go out if you have symptoms – get a test
- Isolate if told to by NHS Test & Trace
There are various ways of getting a Covid Pass. These range from registering and using the Covid App to calling 119 for proof to be posted to you. Please see our factsheet Proof of your Covid Status for further guidance but be aware there will always be a delay before you can show proof of vaccine.
- Get lots of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable.
- Lie on your side or sit upright instead. Avoid lying on your back.
- Try having a teaspoon of honey to help ease a cough. But do not give honey to babies under 12 months.
The legal restrictions that we have all lived with through the pandemic may have been lifted, but it is normal to feel anxious and a little hesitant to mix with other people again, especially if you are a Carer for a vulnerable person.
We would love to know how we can help you to gradually start getting out and about again. We already run a number of events that might interest you – see our Feeling Good Caring Well events on our website. We will be adding to this programme and if you have other ideas that you think Carers would find helpful then do get in contact. Perhaps a walk in the fresh air with other Carers might be a good idea to build up your confidence again?
If you’re unsure about getting back out there, check out:
From Mind: Managing feelings about lockdown easing and
From Young Minds: Coronavirus and mental health – a guide for young people
We are told by lots of our Carers that they put the health and wellbeing of the person they care for first – sometimes to the extent that their own health problems or worries are ignored.
Your own wellbeing – physical and emotional - is really important when you are a Carer so do make sure you spend some time looking after yourself. Look at our website for videos on relaxation, mindfulness and coping with anxiety.
Join our wellbeing programme, Feeling Good, Caring Well, and have some fun with others.
The following trusted information sources are the best ones for up-to-date information you can rely on:
For specific information about caring for Someone with cancer during the coronavirus pandemic, go to Macmillan Cancer Support, Supporting someone with cancer or call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
- We run Day Centres in Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers to give Carers some time to themselves while knowing their loved ones are in a safe and stimulating environment
- We run Activity Groups for people with Dementia or Memory Problems – in Harlow, Dunmow, Epping and Witham
- Our wellbeing programme, Feeling Good, Caring Well puts on events across Essex aimed at helping you to look after your wellbeing
- We support Young Carers in schools and respite after school clubs
- A free, confidential counselling service for adult Carers in Essex
- Our befriending services are aimed at adults who are most likely to experience loneliness or social isolation: older people, people with learning disabilities, people with mental health needs and family Carers.