Carers Journey.PNGIf you’re a carer it’s incredibly important that you look after yourself as well as the person that you care for, and one way you can do this is by getting the free flu vaccine.

Flu is a nasty illness, and if you catch it, it won’t just affect you but will impact on the person you’re caring for too.

All unpaid carers in England are eligible for the free flu vaccine on the NHS – it’s available from your own GP surgery, or from most local pharmacies – and most local pharmacies won’t need an appointment. 

An unpaid carer is anyone looking after a family member, friend or neighbour who needs help. They might have an illness, disability, physical or mental health problem, or addiction. A carer does not need to be living with the person they care for.

You should also check to see if the person you’re caring for is eligible for a free flu vaccine. People who are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch the flu, such as the elderly or those with a long term condition, can get the vaccine for free. This is because they may experience complications from the virus, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Dr Dani Leslie, Chief Officer of Eden Carers & Director Carers Support Cumbria, said: “If you’re looking after someone who is ill, frail or disabled and you go down with flu or another bug, it’s not only unpleasant for you but it affects your ability to look after the person you’re caring for. Winter ailments can also have a more serious effect on people who are older, have a disability or an existing health condition.

“If you’re looking after someone it’s important that you look after yourself too and take advantage of the fact that some pharmacies are open extended hours and at weekends for advice that is free and without the need for an appointment.”

The best time to have the flu jab is in the autumn, and it’s best to get the vaccine as early as possible so that you’re protected by the time flu viruses start circulating. The NHS is also encouraging unpaid carers to ensure they have had their covid vaccine and can access their booster as soon as they are eligible.

If you had the flu jab last year, you will need to have it again this year as the virus changes each year, as does the vaccine.

You can read more about who is eligible for a free vaccination here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

Attached is information about the carers journey – many people who provide care for a loved one may not realise they are an unpaid carer