Last reviewed 19 February 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that the Covid vaccine appointment booking system has now been amended to reflect the fact that childcare and early years practitioners are not eligible for vaccination as part of the social care workforce unless they are caring for clinically extremely vulnerable children.

This follows reports that some early workers had managed to book vaccine appointments based on information listed on the National Careers Service website that classes nursery staff and childminders as social care workers. However, the National Careers Service has now clarified that its site is not intended to be used for prioritising staff for vaccines.

The DHSC has confirmed that childcare and early years practitioners who have already received their vaccine will not be fined but anyone who has made an appointment and is not eligible, must cancel their appointment.

The NHS has also stated that the vast majority of people working in school and early years settings are not classed as frontline health or social care workers. To qualify under this criteria staff need to be providing face-to-face care or support to children or adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. In most cases, people who are eligible should be contacted directly by their employer and will be given a letter.

In a joint statement, the Early Years Alliance, National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), and the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) said:

“We are aware that a number of early years providers and their staff have been able to book appointments for coronavirus vaccines after the online booking system was opened up to social care workers for self-referral this week. However, we also know that some early years providers have been turned away at centres and from the 119 booking system.”

“There has been no change to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)’s position on prioritisation for the vaccine and the roll-out is still progressing through its first phase priority groups. That said, we know that some providers may find that their local authorities have been able to offer vaccines to key workers where local availability allows.”

“We continue to make the case for Covid-19 vaccines to be made available to all early years providers across the country, once the most vulnerable have received their vaccine, and are calling for clear and official guidance to avoid any ambiguity on this. Vaccinations for early years providers must be offered on a national basis and providers should not have to contend with a post-code lottery for access to the protection they deserve as they carry out their vital roles.”