Vaccine advice for parents and carers

You will have seen in the media that the Government plans to rollout vaccines for Covid-19 to priority groups before offering a vaccine to the rest of the UK public. The priority groups were first outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and can be found on page eight of this document >>

We have received reports that there is some confusion about where parents, carers, and children with complex needs fit into these priority groups. Different areas of the UK seemingly have different interpretations of who should be vaccinated first. We call on the Government to clarify when exactly seriously ill children and the people who look after them can expect to receive a vaccine.

Below is a summary of which prioritisation level parents, carers and children fall under.

Parents 

Parents of a child with serious health needs fall under priority 6 as the main carer of a disabled person, and should be able to book an appointment to receive a vaccine now. If you are not already known to your GP as a carer, you should contact them and ask them register that you are the primary carer for your child on your record. You can book a vaccination appointment by contacting your GP directly or through the NHS England website here >>

We have had reports from parents that some local authorities and GPs are not allowing parents to fall under any priority group, even though they should be under priority 6 for a vaccine. If you too have been told that as a parent of a child with complex needs you are not a priority for the vaccine, let us know by emailing familynetworks@wellchild.org.uk We urge the Government to ensure that parents are offered a vaccine as soon as possible.

Paid carers 

The paid carers who look after your child should be classed as “frontline health or social care workers”. This means that they will fall under priority 2, and should be able to receive the first dose of a vaccine now if they have not already. Below is a list of who paid carers should contact if they have not already been contacted about receiving the vaccine:

  • In England, vaccine appointments can be booked online here on the NHS website >> 
  • There is a vaccine helpline and booking service available in Scotland by calling 0800 030 8013
  • Carers can book vaccination appointments by phone in Northern Ireland: 0300 200 7813
  • People can also contact the GP they are registered with to book a vaccination appointment if they are in one of the priority groups.

Receiving a vaccine is a choice, and it cannot be forced upon anyone. Some carers may not wish to receive the vaccine, and they cannot be forced to do so by their employer.

We have received reports that some areas of the UK are not classing the paid carers of children with serious health needs as frontline health or social care workers. We call of the Government to immediately clarify the prioritisation category paid carers should be in and ensure that anyone who cares for a child with complex needs is offered the vaccine as soon as possible.

Unpaid carers in receipt of a carers allowance 

Those in receipt of a carers allowance fall under priority 6. The Government has said that they are working to identify all unpaid carers and should contact you to offer you a vaccine when they are ready to do so. If you are an unpaid carer, ensure you are registered as such with your GP. You should be able to book a vaccination appointment by contacting your GP directly or through the NHS England website here >>

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people aged over 16 

CEV people aged 16 or over currently fall under priority 4 and should be able to book a vaccination appointment now. If your GP has not contacted you already, you can:

  • Book an appointment online in England on the NHS Website >>
  • Call the vaccine helpline and booking service if you are in Scotland: 0800 030 8013
  • Book a vaccination appointment by phone if you are in Northern Ireland: 0300 200 7813
  • Contact the GP you are registered with directly to arrange an appointment.

At risk people over 16

The category of “at risk” people aged 16 or over currently falls under priority 6 for the vaccine. At risk people are not classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, but have conditions or are in settings that put them at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19. All adults with a registered learning disability have recently been added to the “at risk” category. A complete list of people who are be included in the at risk category can be in the JCVI guidance, p9-10. Click here to read the guidance >>

If you or your child (aged over 16) are in the “at risk” category, you should be able to book a vaccination appointment by contacting your GP directly or through the NHS England website here >>

CEV and at risk children aged under 16

None of the Covid-19 vaccines have yet been approved for use in children, and only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently licensed for use in over 16s. Clinical trials are ongoing, and until the regulator approves a vaccine for children, the vast majority of under 16s will not be able to receive the vaccine, regardless of whether they are CEV or not.

There are a few rare instances where the vaccine could be given to a 12-16 year old unlicensed. The JCVI says that children who could be considered for unlicensed use of the vaccine must fit all of the following criteria. They must:

  • Be over 12 years old
  • Spend regular time in a specialised residential care settings for children with complex needs
  • Tend to get recurrent respiratory tract infections
  • Have a serious neuro-disability (including cerebral palsy, severe autism and Down’s syndrome)

The JCVI adds that “Recommendations on vaccinating children with other underlying conditions will be reviewed after the initial roll-out phase by which time additional data on use of the vaccines in adults should allow a better assessment of risks and benefits.”

The information on this page is reviewed weekly. Last reviewed 24/02/21

Callum Campbell, WellChild Family Information Officer

callumcampbell@wellchild.org.uk