As states begin to open up COVID-19 vaccines to the greater population, many parents are asking: What about our caretakers? For families that operate only with the help of nannies and babysitters, essential workers as far as they’re concerned, it makes sense that these individuals would be next in line for the shot. But as has been made abundantly clear, vaccine protocols vary widely from state to state. So how can nannies, babysitters, and caretakers get the covid vaccine?
If only there were a simple answer to this question.
If you’re a nanny, babysitter or caretaker, each state treats you differently. For instance, South Carolina is still in Phase 1A distributing shots to healthcare workers, hospital patients aged 65+, individuals 70+, and mission critical state and government employees through the end of February. Caretakers not in the above, fall into the category of those who will be allowed to receive the vaccine in Phase 1B, which is currently slated for a nebulous “early spring” date. Meanwhile, two states away, Virginia has moved to Phase 1B and is vaccinating child care professionals, that means individuals who work with children in a public or private institution, including school teachers, administrators, and staff. So the key takeaway here is: Check your state’s regulations.
Can babysitters get the vaccine?
If you are a nanny over the age of 65, then you’re in luck. As of January 15, 2021, according to the New York Times, 28 states and Washington, D.C. have opened vaccines to individuals 65 and older. That means there’s no employment caveat. The only proof of eligibility you’ll likely be asked for is identification verifying your age.
If you're a babysitter or nanny under that age, but have an existing condition that makes you more susceptible to illness, then you too can likely get the vaccine now. The CDC calls these comorbid conditions. “Comorbidity means more than one disease or condition is present in the same person at the same time,” the CDC’s website explains. These could be chronic kidney disease, severe obesity, or an immunocompromised state. Whether or not you would need a doctor’s note to show proof of your condition would be up to each individual provider (which in some states is defined by county), so it’s worth asking in advance. However, a December USA Today story noted that many providers would avoid a doctor’s note requirement as it might “be a risk of increasing barriers and accessibility for people who may not have access to a primary care doctor.”
Case in point, “nannies and in-home caregivers, if 65 or older or 16 and older with an identified chronic condition, can be vaccinated now,” says Douglas Loveday, Press Officer for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Neither of those? Then it’s a crap shoot.
Many of the health departments Romper reached out to (25 states in all) couldn’t say for certain what phase in-home caretakers workers fall under. In fact, in the case of Wyoming’s Health Department, when asked if they could say whether Phase 1B’s "Child care service providers" includes nannies and babysitters, the spokesperson responded with “No, I can’t. I don’t have a definition on that.”
If you work in a childcare facility, however, you can get the vaccine in most cases.
For instance, Washington State’s Department of Health tells Romper that “People who are providing regular babysitting/nannying are eligible if the care environment is similar to an in-home childcare setting.” An Emergency Communications Consultant with the Center for Public Affairs adds that “this means it is a congregate setting, with a high volume/high density of children from different households where social distancing is challenging. These factors contribute to increased exposure risk in a childcare care setting. A person providing babysitting/nannying in a non-congregate setting would not qualify.”
So, at least in Washington, if you’re caring for a group of children from various households, you should be able to get the vaccine in phase 1B tiers 2 and 4 when they open.
Whether you need to show proof of employment, however, depends, again, on your vaccine provider. Following an incident in Los Angeles County, according to the LA Times, where nearly 100 people jumped the vaccine line before official healthcare workers, the county began requiring proof of ID and proof of employment. So while there’s no set rule across the country, to be safe, bring an ID and some form or proof of employment just in case.
Can elder caretakers get the vaccine?
In nearly every state, people who work with elderly in care facilities were given first priority for the vaccine. And for good reason. Older adults are at the greatest risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus.
But for those who care for the elderly in their homes, vaccine priority status in many states remains unclear. For example, in North Carolina people who do unpaid home health caretaking roles for older family members or friends appear to be left out of the vaccine plan, according to North Carolina Health News.
Without clearly defined protocols, those who work with the elderly in their homes for free or as an independent contractor should assume they’ll have to wait until a later phase of distribution or follow when the shot becomes available for their age range. This could change if states follow new guidance that could be forthcoming from the Biden administration, however, for now, many are in a holding pattern.
What do you need to bring to your appointment?
None of the health departments Romper contacted indicated any specific documentation required to receive the vaccine other than a driver’s license. But as we mentioned before, you can never be too prepared. Bringing a receipt of payment or some other means to show where you work, isn’t a bad idea.
That said, there’s reason to believe more states will move to age-based eligibility as they head into additional phases.
Indiana’s Megan Wade-Taxter, a Media Relations Coordinator for the state’s health department, put it this way: “We are taking an age-based approach to current expansion because age is the number one cause of hospitalizations and death due to COVID. Hoosiers age 70 and older account for 10.8% of the population, but 42% of our COVID-19 hospitalizations and 78% of the deaths in the state.”
So rather than focus on your job title, for now it might be best to track vaccine information based on your age.
How long will the appointment take?
In at least the state of Virginia, vaccine appointments are being made in 10 minute increments. You show up, fill out some forms, get the vaccine, and are on your way. Staff give patients a card with their vaccine information and instructions on when to return for dose two.
How long is the wait before the second shot?
This is another question that requires consulting your state's particular information. In some places, for instance, Washington state, the Moderna vaccine is being given out within 4 weeks of each shot.
According to the Washington Post, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the recommended interval between doses is 4 weeks, however, if a patient misses their appointment, they can wait up to six weeks.
Your slated wait time will depend upon the clinic you visit.
Where can I find more information on vaccines?
Of the 25 states Romper reached out to, each Health Department had a website landing page specifically with vaccine-related information. So our suggestion is to Google: “state name COVID vaccine information” to find more answers to your questions.
For more information, WebMD has put together a comprehensive list of every state’s COVID vaccine information pages, which you can find here.
This story will be updated as we gather more information.