CARER charities across Cumbria have welcomed the news that unpaid carers have been added as a priority group in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Unpaid carers were included in new Covid-19 vaccination advice issued on December 31, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Mike Seaton from Carers Support Cumbria and Carer Support South Lakes said the news means people who care for older, disabled and seriously ill relatives will be amongst the first to receive the vaccination.

Vaccination advice now lists unpaid carers as a priority six group, out of nine, although some carers will also meet the criteria of more urgent groups. That includes care home residents and staff, front line health and social care workers, those over 65 and extremely vulnerable individuals added Mr Seaton.

“We know there are over 70,000 carers in Cumbria, and rising, including young carers, who provide vital care and support to thousands of vulnerable and ill people,” said Mr Seaton.

“If carers get ill then health and social care services are placed under even more pressure putting an increased burden on the finite resources available to deal with the current pandemic,” added Mike Seaton.

Craig Backhouse from Furness Carers and Carers Support Cumbria, explained the significance of the vaccination announcement: “It’s good news that unpaid carers are now on the priority list although the details are yet to be worked out.

“That includes how to give carers the option of being vaccinated at the same time as those they care for. As hard as it is, we would urge carers not to contact their GPs but to wait to hear from them, even though that could take a while.

“As part of Carers Support Cumbria, we’ll be continuing to work with health colleagues to make this happen, and we’ll be looking at the implication of a more infectious strain of the virus and how that impacts on volunteer help.”

Full details of the groups can be found on the You.Gov website page here.