COVID VACCINATION AND PA TESTING UPDATE

COVID-19 Tests for your PA/Carers

The Government have announced that Personal Assistants (who care for an adult over the age of 18) are now able to order regular test kits through the GOV.UK website.

Personal Assistants or the individual employer are responsible for ordering test kits.

Personal Assistants or the individual employer must decide the address their test kits are delivered to. You may want to use a different address if you’re unlikely to be home when the delivery arrives (within 48 hours).

Personal assistants must order 4 test kits within the same order. To do so, the ‘add another person’ section needs to be repeated 3 times so that 4 kits are ordered. This is vital as you cannot place another order of test kits for 14 days following an order.

The full instructions of how to order test kits are available on the GOV.UK website here: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-for-personal-assistants

The Government have also put together a flyer explaining the test ordering process which you can view by clicking here.

Flowcharts explaining when your staff can Return to Work following a COVID test

Public Health England have released flowcharts showing the process that your employee must follow in the event that they take a COVID-19 Test. These are below:

Asymptomatic Worker: Flowchart describing return to work following a COVID test

Symptomatic Worker: Flowchart describing return to work following a COVID test

Accessing COVID Vaccines for your PA/Carers

If you're an Independent Lives payroll customer, funded by West Sussex County Council, you should have received a letter from us with information on how your PAs can register to receive a COVID vaccination. If you have not received this yet, please contact us.

Customers funded by Continuing Healthcare have been sent a letter directly from them providing details about PA vaccinations.

Independent Lives can book vaccinations for PAs working in West Sussex through the National Booking Service (link below). 

To book, please call Independent Lives Information & Advice Line on 01903 219 482 ext. 301. Please make sure that you have the mobile phone numbers, date of births, NHS number and postcodes of your PA's on hand before you call. You can book an appointment for your PA yourself or your PA can make the booking themselves. 

Independent Lives can book vaccinations for PAs working in Croydon at the following sites:

  • Croydon University Hospital, 530 London Road, Croydon CR7 7YE
  • Crystal Palace Football Ground, Selhurst Park Stadium, Whitehorse Lane, London, SE25 6PU
  • St.George’s Hospital, Blackshaw Road Tooting London SW17 0QT
  • Hawks Road Health Clinic Vaccination Centre. Hawks Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 3EW
  • St Helier Hospital. Wrythe Lane, Sutton, Carshalton, SM5 1AA
  • Epsom General Hospital Post Graduate Centre, 2nd Floor Wells Wing, Dorking Road, Epsom, KT18 7EG
  • South West London & St. George’s Springfield Hospital, 61 Glenburnie Road, Tooting, SW17 7DJ
  • Teddington Health and Social Care Centre (THSCC) 18 Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LR

To book, please call Independent Lives Information & Advice Line on 01903 219 482 ext. 301.

You can book an appointment for your PA or your PA can make the booking themselves.

Bookings in Croydon are made through the Swiftqueue system. We will need the following PA information to book an appointment:

  • Email
  • Password (8 Characters, must include upper and lower case and a number
  • First Name
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender

Your PAs NHS number and Postcode would also be helpful but is not necessary to book an appointment. 

PAs in both West Sussex and Croydon will be asked to provide proof of their role at their vaccination appointment. Please use the letters previously sent to your employer by your Local Council.

If you do not have these, please let us know and we can send them to you.

Calls to our Information & Advice Line are incredibly busy at present, so if you cannot get through to us, you can book vaccine appointments for your PAs through the National Booking Service by using the link below:

This provides an additional option for eligible frontline social care workers like Personal Assistants to access an appointment at a time and place that is convenient for them.

You can access the National Booking Service at the link below:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/

Please keep an eye on this page for all up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

What to take when you attend your appointment

Do not attend a vaccine centre if you do not have a booked appointment. When attending your appointment please take:

  1. Identification to confirm your status as a health and social care worker. Take your photo staff/work ID. If you do not have photo ID, please bring a payslip and the letters of authorisation Independent Lives sent to you in the post and another form of photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport.

  2. Your NHS number with you to your appointment if you have it – this will be a numerical 10-digit number. You can still have your vaccination without it but having your number to hand will make your appointment quicker and easier. You can get you NHS number from a prescription, from any letter from your GP or hospital, from Online Services if you use this with your GP, or download and register with the NHS App.
  1. A face mask to wear when you attend your vaccination.

IMPORTANT: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you will need to wait 28 days from when you had your positive result before receiving a vaccination. If you have had the flu vaccination you must wait 7 days before receiving your COVID-19 vaccination.

Accessing the COVID Vaccine as an unpaid or informal carer

The government have now opened the COVID-19 vaccination programme to those in group 6, which includes adult unpaid carers.

For purposes of the vaccination programme adult carers are defined as those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.

The carers who are eligible include those who provide support for:

  • Children with severe neuro-disabilities
  • Those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV)
  • Adults who have underlying health conditions as defined in table 3 of the green book
  • Those who have care needs because of advanced age.

If you’re known as a carer by your GP, in receipt or eligible for carers allowance, or known by your Local Authority - usually as a result of having contact with a social worker and/or having a carers assessment - you will be contacted by the NHS directly. This will either be through the National Booking Service (NBS) or your local GP-led service.

Carers who are eligible for the vaccination, but whose caring status is currently unknown to the Local Authority or their GP, will still be able to access the vaccination. However, the full details on how this will be made available are still to be agreed.

If you have specific questions about vaccinations please visit the national vaccination service via the NHS.

In Sussex, for more specific information relating to vaccinations, you can visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme website, email [email protected], or call the vaccine enquiry phone line on: 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday).

Can I insist that my PA takes the COVID vaccine?

In the case of PA vaccinations, many individual employers are fearful that their PAs are putting them and often their family at risk by refusing to take the vaccine. Some individual employers are considering disciplinary action or even dismissal.

However, it is unfair in most cases to simply dismiss a PA who is refusing to take the vaccine.

You should talk to your PAs about the vaccine and seek further advice from the provider of your Employer’s Liability Insurance in the event that there’s a difference of opinion on this matter.

In some cases, a mandated vaccination programme might be fair if it can be demonstrated that the vaccine is one of a range of measures being implemented to protect somebody who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but this should not be implemented without seeking advice from your insurer.

According to the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination guide for social care staff, while vaccinated health and social care staff will be less likely to pass on the infection it is not yet clear how much of an impact this will have.

Some vaccinated people could get a mild or asymptomatic infection and therefore still be able to pass the virus on.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) report on priority groups suggests that the vaccine efficacy and any potential impacts on transmission are being monitored by public health England and data will be considered at the earliest opportunity.

It is therefore still too early to draw any firm conclusions beyond a potential reduction in transmission.

For most employers this reduction is not enough to warrant introducing a mandatory vaccination programme or blanket dismissal for refusing to be vaccinated.

Particularly where infection control measures and safe working practices are in place to prevent infection.

Supporting Personal Assistants to take up the vaccination

The Local Government Association has co-ordinated a Q & A: Supporting personal assistants to take up vaccination as part of priority group two - frontline care workers with input from Skills for Care, Think Local, Act Personal, In-control, Disability North, ADASS, DHSC and individual councils. The LGA are also hosting the public-facing LA points of contact list for employers and frontline care workers who need to get in touch to arrange their vaccination. PAs employed via a personal health budget are included within this group.

Those with a severe and profound learning disability are eligible for the vaccine as part of cohort 6 and are an important patient group.

Accessible resources for COVID-19 vaccination

Public Health England have developed a range of resources in accessible formats to help people understand and access vaccination.  The materials are comprised of HTML, large print and braille versions of the core leaflets including:

COVID-19 vaccination – a guide for adults

COVID-19 vaccination – guide for childbearing, pregnant or breastfeeding women

What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination

All of the leaflets have been translated into 18 languages, Easy Read versions for people with a learning disability as well as BSL videos .

Audio versions are in the production process and should be available soon. 

You can order paper copies of all of the leaflets, and download the files for audio or video from our Health Publications website here. You just need to register; the service is free. 

Warning over COVID-19 vaccination scams

Please be on your guard against fake COVID-19 vaccination appointment text and email messages. People are receiving a text or email notification of their ‘vaccination appointment’ and are being asked to confirm it by clicking on a link. This looks very similar to the genuine texts being sent to patients to arrange their appointments at the GP led vaccination services.

The COVID-19 vaccination is ONLY available from the NHS and it is FREE – you will never be asked to pay for it or give your bank details.