Yes, already. I know. Sunshine outside - well, there has been today anyway, and yet I'm talking flu vaccinations (but I have tried to brighten it up a bit with some flower pics I took in the summer).
Speaking with a group of carers today I was reminded how rubbish a lot of us are when it comes to looking after ourselves, so here's your helpful annual reminder* that this is something you are entitled to (every year) as a carer, regardless of whether you're in a recognised vulnerable group or not - it's free (yay!), reasonably quick and easy, and might stop you from getting sick this winter which, as well as potentially having an impact on the person you care for, is not great fun for you.[ *nag]
If your GP has a certain box on your records ticked (Carer □) they should contact you about getting your free nhs flu vaccination - they might send you a letter, or a text, or an email, telling you that you are entitled to the jab (for free), and encouraging you to make an appointment. You can also get the jab (still for free) at your local pharmacy - just make sure you tell them that you're a carer. Popping in to your pharmacy might be the most convenient option for you - you don't necessarily have to book in advance (all four pharmacies that I phoned said they can do it on the spot, but you can also pre-book if that works better for you), so you can talk to them when you're next in there grabbing a repeat prescription. And did I mention it's free?
The bit that makes it free is the magical word 'carer', and the criteria for this is pretty wide - realistically, if you think you might be eligible, you probably are. In case you're one of those people (like me) who likes to feel they're on absolutely solid footing when they're asking for something, keep reading, and I'll give you all the details you might possibly need if you're unfortunate enough to end up asking someone who is having a bad day, or hasn't had up to date training, or is just that kind of person. If you're happy to wing it - go, be free, be kind, and remember to get that flu jab.
So, still with me? Okay. This nhs site states that you are entitled to a free flu vaccination if you receive Carers Allowance (CA), or "if you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill".
What this means is that if you receive CA, you are entitled to a free flu vaccination.
If you look after your elderly* parent who relies on you to get their shopping every week, you are entitled to a free flu vaccination.
[* and here NHS England states "Generally, someone over the age of 65 might be considered an older person" so this is where you might need to do some working out. In case anyone is thinking angry thoughts about me, I'm not saying that over 65 = elderly, I'm just telling you NHS England say that, okay?]
If you provide support to your partner who has a physical disability or mental health condition and would struggle without that support if you were ill with the flu for a couple of weeks, you are entitled to a free flu vaccination.
If you are the parent (or grandparent) of an infant, child, or teenager who has a disability and you provide the lions share of their care/support, you are entitled to a free flu vaccination.
[Worth noting here that some GP practices are more flexible than others - many will be willing to give two parents (who both live with the young person) a free flu vaccination, so definitely worth asking if you share the care of a young person with a disability. If you live separately and share custody, you are each entitled in your own right.]
If you are a young person who cares for your parent who has a disability or long term health condition (including mental health condition or substance or alcohol misuse), you are entitled to a free flu vaccination.
[This is whether or not anyone knows about your caring responsibilities - if you aren't receiving any support or no one knows that you do this, please get in touch with your local service for young carers - just Google "young carer" and the name of where you live, as you may be able to access more support for yourself or your parent - they will be able to give you more info. Also, you will have to go to your GP surgery for your vaccination - pharmacies will only do over 18's.]
Two other really important points to be aware of - firstly, the person that you provide care for does not need to be in one of the clinically defined "at risk" groups (eg, have asthma or heart failure). It doesn't matter what their disability or health condition or additional need is - only that they need support or care.
Secondly, their level of need does not have to be really high - the requirement is that their "welfare may be at risk" if you were to become ill. They don't have to be entirely dependant on you and would definitely die if you were unwell and didn't wake up to an alarm on their respirator - there just has to be a risk to their welfare. For example, if your partner who has a mental health condition might struggle to remember to take their meds without your prompting, or wouldn't leave the house for as long as you were unwell and unable to accompany them, these are risks to their welfare. Or your elderly father might not remember to bathe or be able to cook a hot meal if you didn't pop round and remind or help him, these are risks to his welfare. The criteria is about welfare, not life; and risk, not certainty.
That's it, I'm done, I've bored you enough, I'm sure. I've got that off my chest, and feel much better for it actually. Just bugs me when info doesn't get to the people who need it, or they get the headline but don't feel confident enough to act on it because they don't know enough detail, so hopefully there might be someone out there *gestures expansively* who finds this useful. If you do, feel free to let me know! Remember, no one pays me, I officially know nothing, and this is all based on UK stuff in 2018. If you're not in the UK, or in 2018, well, it's probably not a great deal of help. Also, the next thing I'm likely to need to get off my chest (apart from my clothes in a minute when I go to bed) is about flu vaccinations for people with a learning disability, so consider yourself forewarned. Just time for one last flower photo...