Scotland’s vaccination programme has now delivered more than two million first doses to the eligible population.

We are currently moving through group 6 on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority list, which includes unpaid carers – a group of people who provide vital support to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

If a carer is infected with the virus there is not only the risk that they will become unwell but that it will be passed on to the person they care for - therefore it is incredibly important they are offered vaccinations.

We want to reach as many unpaid carers as possible. To do this we are going further than the JCVI’s recommendation.

The JCVI’s definition of an unpaid carer is “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 Scottish Government recognises that many people rely on more than one person for care and support - for instance parents who look after a disabled child - so we are keen to include anyone who plays a role in providing day-to-day in-person support.

We are also allowing eligible young carers aged 16 and 17 to self-register for the vaccination. We are aware that many young people care for a parent with a health condition or are involved in looking after a sibling.

Many carers will already have been offered a vaccination as part of a previous priority group or are being called forward now because they are in receipt of relevant benefits - Carer’s Allowance, Young Carer Grant or Child Winter Heating Payment.

They may also be registered as a carer with their GP.

However, we estimate there could be as many as 450,000 carers who are not in these groups and will not be identified through these channels, so we have launched a new service for eligible carers to register themselves for vaccination.

The service is for unpaid carers aged between 16 and 64 who provide regular face-to-face care for a family member, friend or neighbour because of old age, physical or mental illness, disability or an addiction.

This can mean helping with things like shopping, domestic tasks, emotional assistance and personal care.

It is now open and can be found at

Within five days of the service opening, more than 45,000 unpaid carers successfully registered and we are delighted with the positive response.

However, we are keen that all eligible unpaid carers take the opportunity to self-register. When they do, they will be advised if they are already scheduled for an appointment so there is no duplication.

We are asking people to register online if they possibly can, but those who don’t have access to the internet can call the Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013.

A Scottish Government marketing campaign has also been launched to encourage all unpaid carers who are eligible for a vaccine to get one.

It is being supported by additional communications from local carer services and other third-sector organisations to carers on their mailing lists.

This Government appreciates that the pandemic has presented more challenges than ever before for unpaid carers with schools closed and many regular sources of support having stopped or moved online because of restrictions.

We have implemented a range of measures to support carers throughout this, such as help to access PPE and an investment of over £1 million in our Short Breaks Fund to increase support for unpaid carers of all ages, helping them to take a break from caring and access other much-needed help.

I strongly urge all eligible carers to self register and take up the offer of a vaccine so that those people who give so much of their time to protecting others can themselves be protected from this virus.