Vaccination rollout in Surrey
The COVID vaccine is progressing well in Surrey, with qualifying unpaid carers now invited to make a vaccination appointment.
The vaccination programme is now starting to invite everyone aged 45 or over, but carers of any age qualify:
- If you get a Carer’s Allowance, get support following an assessment by your local authority or your GP record shows you are a carer.
The government also published new guidance on the vaccination of carers in March.
Getting the vaccine in Surrey
If you haven’t already, please ensure that you are registered with your GP as a carer. It’s a good idea for all carers anyway, but even more important now.
Unpaid carers over the age of 18 who are not already known to health and care services can contact the National Booking Service or ring 119 to find out if they are eligible to book their vaccination appointment.
If you’re aged 45 upwards, you’ll now qualify by age anyway, so expect your GP to be in touch, or book direct; see more details below.
Two paths to vaccination
Via the national booking system
If you’re aged 45 or more, you will receive a letter from NHS England inviting you to book for a vaccine through the NHS’s national booking system. That letter will explain how to book, but if you are aged 45 upwards or a qualifying carer, you can make an appointment without a letter now. Many carers who don’t receive carers allowance will also qualify; make sure you’re flagged as a carer with your GP, so you are invited for your vaccination. Find out how on our GP page here. You can also book direct yourself (details below). There are various qualifications for carers (depending on the degree of care you are providing, or condition of the person you’re looking after), so you’ll be asked a few questions about your situation.
You can contact the NHS to book an appointment online or by calling 119 free of charge. It helps if you have your NHS number to hand (which will be on any letter or appointment you’ve had from a GP or hospital). Of course, as a carer, you can make the booking on someone else’s behalf, if they can’t go online or call themselves.
Certain other people also qualify now, such as frontline healthcare workers and many people with health vulnerabilities, including severe learning disabilities. If you book this way you will be offered an appointment at a larger centre (such as Epsom Racecourse) or a local pharmacy.
(Please see the important information about scams below – you will NEVER be asked to pay towards your vaccine in any way. It is always free.)
Via your GP
You will also be contacted by your local GP Network, which may take a few days longer. It’s important to register as a carer with your GP, as this will help them is assessing any priority for you or the person you’re caring for. More on how to do this here.
These appointments will be available in a range of settings arranged by local GPs and could be closer to home. In Surrey, these include GLive, Guildford; Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green; Farnham Health Centre; Chertsey Hall; Tandridge Borough Council’s offices, and certain GP surgeries. There’s even a mobile unit in Merstham: a bus which will be popping up at various sites in the area. The surgery will let you know your nearest venue when they get in touch.
How the vaccination centres work in Surrey
More vaccination centres are being added to the list all the time. These are extremely well organised, with helpful staff, clear signage, limited waiting times and of course COVID-safe set ups, including temperature readings, hand-sanitiser and distancing.
You’re encouraged to arrive at your booked time (not early!) and it should take between 30 and 45 minutes.
If you book online, you can specify any special provision (such as disabled parking) and if you book in person via a surgery, of course you can discuss it with the caller. If you’re bringing someone for their vaccination, it’s always worth asking if you can be vaccinated at the same time. The vaccination centre is not under any obligation, but the JCVI’s (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) instructions are to be flexible, so it does no harm to ask (and has worked for some of our carers.)
It’s not too late
Don’t forget that if you or the person you’re caring for didn’t take up the initial offer of a vaccine, you can still book it. If they were uncertain about the idea, or perhaps weren’t well, it’s not too late. Just contact the NHS central bookings by phone or online, or your GP.
To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
- GOV.UK: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- GOV.UK: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- GOV.UK: Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
Surrey Heartlands NHS have further information and links on alternative formats and languages giving information on the vaccine.
Scams – take care
Unfortunately, there is some ‘scamming’ around vaccinations, with people receiving fake phone calls and text requests, including some where you’re asked to enter bank details. Please note you will only be contacted for the vaccine by the NHS, in the priority order, and the vaccine is FREE. Please read this guidance from the NHS in Surrey, and keep up to date on scams generally here.
More helpful information
If you care for someone with autism, the National Autistic Society have this helpful guidance.